As Tehri waters rise, green activist warns of bigger dangers


New Delhi : As the rising waters at Tehri dam touched the 230-metre danger mark, posing the threat of floods in Uttarakhand, an environmentalist Monday warned of bigger disasters if the government did not check the construction of such dams in the Himalayas.

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“Water has already reached at least 20 to 25 villages,” environmentalist Anil Joshi told IANS over phone from Tehri.

“It is high time the government reviewed the viability of the dams. In the end, local communities are paying the price because the water cannot be released, so it is submerging the adjoining villages.”

“Casualties are being reported every day and if the water from the dam is released, it will result in rising water levels in all rivers, specially the Ganga and the Yamuna, taking the flood threat to rest of north India,” says Joshi.

Joshi, who is the founder of Himalayan Environmental Studies and Conservation Organisation working for development of rural villagers of the Himalayas, has urged the government to rethink the viability of such dams.

“There are many issues, the silt brought by this flood will get deposited and reduce the life of the dam by at least five years. This is a year of exceptional rainfall, such situations may be repeated more frequently in future as climate patterns are shifting,” Joshi said.

“The government needs to rethink the viability of these dams,” he added.

The rising water level in the Tehri dam reservoir has put at risk nearby villages and towns like Haridwar, Rishikesh and adjoining areas.

An alert has been sounded in 72 villages in the Tehri lake periphery. The administration said it is prepared to face any eventuality and many government buildings have been prepared for evacuated people.

Despite large-scale protests, the Tehri dam was completed in 2006. It is a rockfill dam on the Bhagirathi, the source stream of the Ganga, which completely submerged the historic Tehri town in Uttarakhand.