The Alaknanda, one of the major constituent tributaries of the Ganga, has turned substantially muddied weeks after the flash flood incident, pictures show.
Even as the magnitude of devastation, lives lost, and financial losses caused due to the Uttarakhand flash flood earlier this month are still being counted, the impact of the disaster has also been felt outside the vicinity of the flash flood site and expanded to different parts of the region. The Alaknanda, one of the major constituent tributaries of the Ganga, has turned substantially muddied weeks after the flash flood incident, as per the pictures clicked by The Indian Express.
Rivers full of mud and sediments is not a new site in the country as several rivers including Ganga and Yamuna are facing the brunt of increased water pollution for decades. However, what has come as a shock to the environmentalists and geologists is the sight of Alaknanda- a pristine, Himalayan, glacier-originated, perennial river— muddied in the rocks, debris, and dust at this time of the year. Environmentalists of the region told the Indian Express that they were unable to recall another instance of the river getting muddied in the winter season. The experts said that the muddied river was due to the presence of sand, clay, debris that must have joined the stream of the river at the time of flash floods.
Uttarakhand Pollution Control Board (UPCB) environment engineer Ankur Kansal told The Indian Express that the river is always clean during the winter season and muddiness is the phenomenon witnessed only during the Monsoon season. The river which originates from the Satopanth glacier consists of several small tributaries including Dhauli Ganga which was the epicentre of the flash floods earlier this month. The river after starting its course from the Satopanth glacier meets Dhauli Ganga and Vishnu Ganga at Joshimath, continues its journey to meet Pindar river at Karnaprayag. The river expands and further traverses to take along Mandakini and Kali Ganga at Rudraprayag before finally converging with Bhagirathi at Devprayag to turn into the mighty Ganga river.
As a natural consequence of the Alaknanda getting muddied, the level of mud and debris has also increased in the Ganga river. As per the data provided by the UPCB, the Ganga river at Rishikesh and Haridwar was also classified as “muddy” on 11th February by the department. In contrast, the river was reported clean on February 6, one day before the flash floods wreaked havoc in the region. Environmentalists and geologists expressed their inability to gauge the amount of debris that may have fallen into the river system. Prof Y P Sundriyal, a faculty at the Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal University in Srinagar told the Indian Express that it is also not possible to forecast any timeframe by the end of which the Himalayan rivers will return to their pristine state again.