Chamoli flooding disaster: IGP asks union and state governments to not over-exploit source capacity of ecological systems


Press Statement

Chamoli flooding disaster: IGP asks union and state governments to not over-exploit source capacity of ecological systems

New Delhi, 9 February 2021: In view of the recent ecological disaster in the state of Uttarakhand, the India Greens Party (IGP) today asked the union and the state governments to not over-exploit the source capacity of ecological systems in the Himalayan Region.

Several lives were lost in the disaster, which deeply impacted the environment and ecology of the region.

In a press statement issued here, the IGP President Suresh Nautiyal said the human-made ecological disasters will continue to happen if the source capacities of ecosystems are over-exploited.

“Ecologically fragile and volatile state of Uttarakhand is an example which has been experiencing human-made disasters again and again. The India Greens Party and several other sane voices have been raising their doubts and asking the governments to stop hydroelectric projects in the state to conserve environment and save ecology; but, the governments concerned hardly listen because they have to serve their energy-hungry capitalist masters and return their favours with compound interest,” stated Mr Nautiyal.

Mr Nautiyal said the studies done by the international geologists and glaciologists clearly point out that the cause of the Chamoli flooding disaster in Uttarakhand appeared to be a landslide and not a glacial outburst as widely believed.

He said Dr Dan Shugar of University of Calgary, who specialises in high altitude glacial and geologic environments, used satellite images from Planet Labs, captured before and after the disaster, to deduce that a landslide triggered the catastrophic flash floods along the Alaknanda and Dhauliganga rivers, as also evidenced by a trail of dust visible in the satellite imagery.

Earlier, reports stated that the flooding was caused by a glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF), which occurs when a natural lake is formed from a glacial ice melt and the lake is breached. However, available satellite images seemingly do not show the presence of a glacial lake before the flooding event. Instead, glaciologists and geologists identified a steeply hanging bit of a glacier which likely developed a crack due to climate change and caused a landslide, triggering an avalanche and the subsequent flooding.

Additionally, there was likely more ice-cored moraine, or ice covered by sediment, as well as stagnant glacial ice downstream, as identified by Matt Westoby, a physical geography lecturer specialising in glacial analysis in Northumbria University.

These large volumes of ice, spanning nearly 3.5 km, would have further melted due to the heat generated by the landslide and avalanche, leading to the huge volumes of water that flooded the rivers. The event looks similar to the 2012 Seti River flooding in Nepal, which was also triggered by a rockslope failure.

“In view of all this, the IGP is of the opinion that the landslide was caused by human activity because a glacial outburst in winters was an impossibility,” pointed out Mr Nautiyal, adding that the source functions of ecological systems have to be protected in order to evade such disasters and ensure sustainability in the future.

-Issued by the IGP Spokesperson (North) Rafat Jamal.


(India Greens Party is registered with the Election Commission of India under Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951. Registration Number: 56/476/2018-19/PPS-I, effective from 18/07/2019.)

Registered Office: 104, Vardhman Complex, 1st Floor, LSC, Savita Vihar, Delhi-110092.

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