Nepal drains dan­ger­ous Ever­est lake

Pakistan Observer - - INTERNATIONAL -

KATH­MANDU—Nepal’s army has started work to drain ris­ing wa­ters in a lake near Ever­est at nearly 5,000m (16,400ft).

Sci­en­tists say that is vi­tal to par­tially drain Lake Imja to stop it from burst­ing its banks with po­ten­tially dev­as­tat­ing con­se­quences.

Imja is one of thou­sands of lakes in the Hi­malayas formed by the melt­ing of glaciers. But last year’s earth­quake may fur­ther have desta­bilised it. It is the high­est drainage project of its kind, the mil­i­tary says. The al­ti­tude at which the work is be­ing com­pleted has posed lo­gis­ti­cal chal­lenges for the army.

Ris­ing tem­per­a­tures are ac­cel­er­at­ing glacial melt­down and rapidly fill­ing such lakes, threat­en­ing com­mu­ni­ties and in­fra­struc­ture down­stream.

With UN fund­ing, Nepalese army per­son­nel and vil­lagers are work­ing to re­duce Lake Imja’s level by three me­tres (9.8ft) in the next few months. Weather con­di­tions are harsh, with work­ers fac­ing the added risk of al­ti­tude sick­ness.

Lt Col Bharat Lal Shrestha of the Nepalese Army told the BBC that about 40 army staff were work­ing along­side Sherpa and other high­land com­mu­nity mem­bers.

The plan is to con­struct an out­let through a di­ver­sion chan­nel and grad­u­ally re­lease wa­ter over 45 days. “We can work for only two to three hours in a day as most of the time it snows mak­ing it very cold in ad­di­tion to the fog and wind,” Col Shrestha said.

“Our per­son­nel get headaches and al­ti­tude sick­ness from time to time and we make them de­scend to our lower camp where they can re­cover and even­tu­ally come back to work.”

While troops were ac­cli­ma­tis­ing, heavy equip­ment was air­lifted to the site by he­li­copter, the only air­craft ca­pa­ble of fly­ing at such a high al­ti­tude.

Of­fi­cials say the army was called in af­ter two rounds of in­ter­na­tional bid­ding to com­plete the work failed to pro­duce a con­trac­tor.

“This is the high­est al­ti­tude dis­as­ter risk mit­i­ga­tion work ever per­formed by any army in the world,” Col Shrestha said.

The drain­ing of the lake is a part of a UN project to help Nepal deal with the im­pact of cli­mate change. Glacial lakes have bro­ken their banks in Nepal more than 20 times in re­cent decades. Three of those in­ci­dents have been in and around the Ever­est re­gion.

Nepal low­ered the level of an­other dan­ger­ous glacial lake, the Tsho Rolpa, in the Rol­wal­ing val­ley west of the Ever­est re­gion, in 2000. Many lakes in parts of the Hi­malayas are feared to have been weak­ened by a pow­er­ful earth­quake which killed 18 climbers, as well as thou­sands of Nepalis, in 2015.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Pakistan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.