Chenab: As land subsidence made 21 families homeless in the Himalayan region’s Chenab valley; scientists say multiple power projects along the banks of the Chenab River have led to the disaster at a time when the geologically sensitive region repeatedly reported earthquakes and flash floods.
There are at least 12 hydropower projects either commissioned or under construction along the banks of the river Chenab. With Locals of the Thathri area saying that the residential structures started developing cracks in December last year, officials said that the LG administration is yet to know the reasons.
According to Banaras Hindu University’s study; the geological and tectonic setting in the Chenab valley is more prone to the seismic sensation as it lies between the rupture zones of Panjal Thrust (PT) and Kishtwar Window (KW).
This whole region has witnessed intense folding and faulting due to the continuous Himalayan orogeny which is mainly responsible for the seismicity in this region as the rocks of the Lesser Himalaya are exposed as thrust sheets, It is because of the continent-continent (India and the Eurasian plates) collision that took place about 50 million years ago.
The Panjal Thrust zone, imbricate of Lesser Himalayan formations and the Tertiary sedimentary successions on the Outer Himalayan Fold Thrust Belt (OHFTB) has formed the lithology of the Thatri area; structurally the whole region of Chenab is widely disturbed and has observed strong folding and faulting as a part of traces of Himalayan Mountain building activity, the study said.
A top scientist at the University of Kashmir told The Himalayan Post that the whole region of Chenab is prone to intensified seismicity, as its lithological formation is unique.
“The Baglihar Hydroelectric Power Project is directly responsible for the current land subsidence in the Doda district because the project has led to the stream bank erosion,” he said.
When any hydro-power project creates unstableness along the geomorphology of a river bank, earthquakes, and flash floods occur repeatedly as we have already seen,” he added.
As per a report by Newsclick; locals have repeatedly protested against the multiple power projects including the Baglihar Hydroelectric Power Project in the Pul Dodha area, Bursar Hydroelectric Project in Marwah, Kishtwar, and another storage project under the Indus Water Treaty along the Marusudar river, a Chenab tributary which flows through numerous villages in Marwah.
Studies have also shown that the Lower Himalayas in Himachal Pradesh and Middle Himalayas in Uttrakhand and hill resorts like Shimla, Mussoorie, Ranikhet, Nainital, Almora, and Darjeeling are different from the Pir Panjal range in Kashmir as the three major rivers Kishanganga or Neelum, the Jhelum and the Chenab passes through the range which is responsible for its sensitive topography.
Despite that mass migrations were reported from the middle Himalayan hills of Uttrakhand’s Joshimath town which sank by about 9 cm between April and November 2022 and from December 27, 2022, to January 8, 2023, it further sank, by about 5.4 cm.