Was the Badrinath lake scare a faux passe?

Dehra Dun : Did the Hyderabad-based National Remote Sensing Centre (NSRC) and the Uttarakhand Space Application Centre (U-SAC) create a faux passé when the satellite picture by the NSRC of a blockade along the Alaknanda above the Badrinath shrine, was interpreted as a moraine lake, which put the Uttarakhand government on an alert and a warning sounded in townships and habitats along the banks of the river.

A team of the Dehra Dun-based Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology and Geological Survey of India (GSI), which undertook an aerial survey of the supposed lake on Saturday have claimed that there is no lake on the ground, but moraine debris that has come down the glaciers, which has probably been seen in the satellite picture and wrongly interpreted as moraine lake.

No lake has been formed at the said site, the team has stated categorically.

It may be recalled that the satellite pictures taken by NSRC some time earlier this month had shown as what appeared to be a blockade along the Alaknanda river, above the Badrinath shrine.

The blockade as seen in the satellite images were interpreted as a moraine lake that had formed from the water melt down of the Satopanth and Badrinath Kharak glaciers. There were fears that should the lake burst, it would destroy the Badrinath shrine besides creating devastation downstream Alaknanda.

However the team of scientists that was asked by the Uttarakhand government to undertake an aerial survey and confirm the ground realities of the lake, have now informed it that there is no lake at the site as seen in the satellite imageries.

They have also said that there are no indications that a lake may have been at the site some days back and the waters may have flown into the Alaknanda, after which just the moraine debris can now be seen.

U-Sac director M M Kimothi said that normally water is very clearly seen and identified in satellite imageries and pictures. However, now a team of the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, who are experts in the matter has undertaken an aerial survey of the area and if they feel that what has been interpreted as a moraine lake is not water but just roack and moraine debris, than the matter rests at that.

A journalist with over 40 years of experience, Jagdish Bhatt was Editor, Hill Post (Uttarakhand). Jagdish had worked with India's leading English dailies, which include Times of India, Indian Express, Pioneer and several other reputed publications. A highly acclaimed journalist, he was a recipient of many awards Jagdish Bhatt, aged 72, breathed his last on 28th August 2021 at his Dehradun residence.

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