Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar in a reply to a supplementary question in Rajya Sabha on Monday said that the Chamoli incident happened due to glacier burst not because of hydro power projects as the government has not approved any new project in the region in the last six years.
He said the Environment, Jal Shakti and Energy Ministry had decided not to grant fresh permission to any hydroelectricity project. "A total of 19 projects are already operational and seven are under construction of which two are less than 25 MW and six are run-of-the-river projects," Javdekar added.
The minister said that an inquiry has already initiated over the Chamoli disaster.
In February, a glacier broke off in Joshimath of Uttarakhandâ€™s Chamoli district causing a massive flooding in the Dhauliganga river and endangering the lives of people living along its banks. Massive destruction was feared, PTI had reported then. The death toll in the Uttarakhand disaster shot to 58 after two more bodies were recovered early on February 16 from the Tapovan tunnel.
The Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) said that there was some cloudburst or breaching of the reservoir at around 10 am, which resulted in the flooding in Dhauliganga â€” one of the six source streams of the Ganges river. The 85 km river meets the Alaknanda River at Vishnuprayag at the base of Joshimath mountain in Uttarakhand.
The ITBP and NDRF (National Disaster Response Force) teams had rushed to flood-hit areas in Uttarakhand to undertake relief and rescue work. Meanwhile, Air Force and other disaster relief forces were on standby.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah had coordinated relief and rescue with Uttarakhand Chief Secretary, Union Home Secretary and MoS Home Nityanand Rai after he was updated on the situation.