Dams & Floods in Uttarakhand | 04.2014 | for Circle of Blue | Choke Point India
In 06.2013 floods wiped away six villages, buried dozens of others and wrecked over 1,000 kms of highways, killing around six thousand people according to the government. Circle of Blue’s field reporting in 12.2013 documented 10 big hydropower projects seriously damaged and another 19 smaller projects destroyed, putting at risk India’s Himalayan hydropower plans.

The onslaught of water and boulders battered the Vishnuprayag Hydroelectric Project high up in the Himalayas on the Alaknanda River. Mud and silt lie in piles on the top of the dam. The cracked and ruptured concrete, and exposed steel reinforcing bars on the dam’s walls are evidence of the beating the dam took.

The 400-megawatt Vishnuprayag Hydroelectric Project on the Alaknanda River was buried in mud and boulders, turning its backwater area for water storage into a giant field of dry rubble. It took five months to dig this much of the dam out of the pile of boulders.​​​​​​​

The 99-megawatt Singoli-Bhatwari Hydroelectric Project on the Mandakini River near Okund was so aggressively pummeled by floodwaters and boulders that big chunks of concrete were gouged out of its base and the patches of steel reinforcing rods of two support towers were bent like broken fingers.

The 330-megawatt Alaknanda Hydro Power Project, commissioned in March in Srinagar, is the newest of Uttarakhand’s big hydroelectric projects. Five more are under construction. More than two dozen big hydropower dams and generating stations are planned for the tight Himalayan valleys in Uttarakhand and its swift and turbulent rivers.

The June flood inundated the power station of the 330-megawatt Alaknanda Hydro Power Project in Srinagar. Turbines inside filled with mud and grit. The project on the Alaknanda River was commissioned in March, 2014, months later than the scheduled opening in October 2013.

More than 5,000 buildings were seriously damaged or destroyed by the Uttarakhand flood on June 16 and 17, 2014.

Posters of missing Hindu pilgrims are grim ornaments on the walls of buildings that still stand in Sonprayag, downriver on the Mandkini River from the Kedarnath temple. The Uttarakhand government counts almost 600 bodies recovered after the flood and more than 5,000 missing. 

Uttrakhand’s undamaged and terraced rice paddies and vegetable fields close to where the Bhagirathi and Alaknanda rivers meet to form the Ganges, India’s sacred river.

North of Srinagar, the lake filling up behind the new Alaknanda hydropower dam required the owners to build a concrete platform high enough to keep Dhari, the goddess of power, dry. On the day that Dhari was placed on the new platform, June 16, the cloudburst opened on the Himalayan ridges above the Alaknanda and Mandakini rivers, setting off the calamitous flood.

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