High alert in UP as glacier breaks off in neighbouring Uttarakhand

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Lucknow, Feb 7 (PTI) The Uttar Pradesh government on Sunday asked authorities in all districts on the banks of the Ganga river to be on high alert and continuously monitor the water level after a glacier broke off at Joshimath in Uttarakhand's Chamoli district.

The glacier burst triggered a massive flood in the Dhauli Ganga river and caused large-scale devastation in the upper reaches of the ecologically fragile Himalayas.

Over 150 labourers working at a power project in Tapovan-Reni are feared dead, an Indo-Tibetan Border Police spokesperson said while quoting the project-in charge. Three bodies have been recovered so far.

In a disaster alert issued to all district magistrates in Uttar Pradesh on Sunday, the relief commissioner said, 'Report of breaking of a part of the Nanda Devi Glacier in Uttarakhand has been received. The districts on the (banks of the) Ganga river need to be on a high alert and the monitoring of water level needs to be done 24×7.

'If required, people need to be evacuated. The NDRF, SDRF and PAC Flood Company have been instructed to be on the highest alert,' the statement added.

In a tweet in Hindi, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said, 'To tackle the natural disaster in Uttarakhand, the Uttar Pradesh government will extend all possible help.' In another tweet, he said, 'Feel sad by the news that many people are feared dead in the disaster which took place after breaking of a glacier. I pray to Lord Ram to give peace to the souls who have passed away, strength to the aggrieved family members to bear the loss and speedy recovery to the injured.' Later, in a statement, the chief minister said in case of rise in the water level, people residing on the banks of river Ganga should be shifted elsewhere if needed.

He also appealed to the people to not believe in any rumour.

'People should exercise caution and not venture towards the banks of rivers. In case of any adverse circumstances, cooperate with the district administration. The UP government is taking all necessary steps,' he said.

Interacting with reporters in Ayodhya, Adityanath said, 'Ganga covers the maximum area in Uttar Pradesh, almost 1,000 kilometres. We are exercising full caution. We got information about the incident and the Jal Shakti department was alerted soon after.

'The Home department is keeping a watch. In Uttarakhand, river Alaknanda is fast approaching towards normal (level) and our supposition is that the water will take time to reach lower areas. After Haridwar, we will absorb this water at the barrages in Narora and Bijnor, and there will be no problem in the downstream areas,' he said.

'Despite this, all the 25 districts in the state where the Ganga flows have been alerted. The emergency and home departments and the SDRF are on alert, the chief minister said.

'There is no need to fear. A disaster like this generally arises when glaciers break. This situation possibly arose because it collided with an under-construction dam. The incident is sad and in the lower areas such a situation will not arise,' Adityanath said.

In Kannauj, District Magistrate Rakesh Kumar Mishra convened an emergency meeting of officials. Diver and revenue officials of villages located on the banks of the Ganga have been told to remain on alert.

Mishra inspected the Mahadevi Ghat in the district and said in case of rise in water level, villagers will be taken to safer places. PTI NAV CORR NSD NSD