The study of the satellite data for October 17, suggested minor pondage near the snout of the glacier.
The day after the Uttarakhand High Court asked the state government to clear the lake that formed near Gaumukh, the snout of the Gangotri glacier from where river Bhagirathi river originates, a group of government officials and scientists, who did the survey, dismissed claims of any such formation. Last Wednesday, the high court, while hearing a PIL by Delhi-based Ajay Gautam, had asked the Uttarakhand Government to clear the lake near Gaumukh in order to avoid any future disasters like the one occurred in Kedarnath in June 2013 where many lost their lives due to floods from a glacial lake breach. After the expert agencies analysed the satellite data available with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) from November 2011 to October 2017, it was found that a landslide occurred in July 2017 because of which debris had been deposited a bit away from Gaumukh.
The study of the satellite data for October 17, suggested “minor pondage” near the snout of the glacier, however, “no blockage” was found in the Bhagirathi river. A group of scientists who had visited the Gangotri glacier in October had however mentioned the formation of an artificial lake near Gaumukh. Vikram Gupta, a Dehradun-based scientist who was a part of the team which did the aerial survey said, “While the course of the Bhagirathi has shifted slightly to the right due to the landslide in July, we didn’t observe any obstruction in the path of the river.”
Piyoosh Rautela, Executive Director of Disaster Mitigation and Management Centre (DMMC), who was also a part of the team added, “Debris had accumulated near the Gangotri snout after the July landslide, but it might have been washed off during rainfall since we didn’t witness much debris near Gaumukh.”
Earlier this month, a team was sent near Gangotri glacier to find out if there was any blockade of the Gangotri river due to lake formation near Gaumukh but due to heavy snowfall the team could not reach Gangotri glacier, which is why an aerial survey was conducted, Rautela further said.
The report states that there was “no imminent danger from the landslide that had occurred during the rainy season of 2017 near the snout of the Gangotri glacier and at present, there exists no lake along the course of the river”.