Himalayan hydro power projects face flood risk

The potential hydro power projects in the Himalayan region face increased flood risks from the formation of new lakes and the expansion of existing ones due to melting glaciers.
It was revealed by study conducted by Swiss researchers on the impact of climate change in the Himalayas.
The study made analysis of Himalayan glaciers and their possible future impact on livelihoods in States adjoining the region. It found that the global warming could cause Himalayan glaciers to melt rapidly increasing the flow of water.
According to the study

  • 441 hydro-power projects spanning India, Nepal, Pakistan and China are on possible Glacier Lake Outburst Floods (GLOF) tracks.
  • It means that these projects could be gorged with extra water from melting glaciers. These 441 projects accounts 66% of constructed and potential hydro power projects,
  • Thus, almost a third of these hydro-power projects could experience GLOF discharges well above what these dams account for.
  • If the hydro-power projects are situated close to these glaciers, they would have to account for higher water flows.
  • The fear of floods can be mitigate by taking in to consideration extra need of design or safety features in these projects.

What is Indian Scenario?
In this study, 129 hydro projects from India were analysed. In the Parvati Valley catchment area, 12 lakes in 1989 had increased to 77 lakes in 2014 and in the Beas basin, six lakes (in 1989) had increased to 33 (in 2011). Most of the lakes were in Himachal Pradesh are relatively small or with a capacity less than of a million cubic metres, and only a few of them had a capacity larger than 10 million cubic metres of water.