Lower Barun glacial lake at risk of outburstPeople living in downstream settlements urge authorities to mitigate the risk.
Experts have warned of a possible outburst of Lower Barun, a glacial lake that lies at the Makalu Barun National Park in Sankhuwasabha district.
Arun Bahadur Shrestha, a researcher at the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development, said that the glacial lake is at high risk of outburst and it can cause a huge loss of lives and properties, as early warning systems have not been installed in the area.
Lower Barun glacial lake, which lies at an altitude of around 4,550 metres above sea level, is approximately 2.7km long and 600 metres wide.
In a programme organised in Khandbari, the district headquarters of Sankhuwasabha, on Saturday, Shrestha said that many settlements on the banks of the Arun River in Sankhuwasabha, Bhojpur, Dhankuta and Sunsari districts will be at high risk of inundation if the glacial lake bursts. He urged the authorities concerned to be aware of the situation and take preventive measures to mitigate the risk.
“Twenty glacial lakes, including Lower Barun, in the country are at risk of outburst,” said Shrestha. “The lakes generally burst in July and August, as snow melts and water level in the lakes and rivers rises.”
Sherstha said that government authorities, various organisations and the locals should work together to preserve the Himalayas and its lakes.
According to Shrestha, 21 destructive floods triggered by glacial lake outburst have been recorded in Nepal so far. He suggested regular monitoring of glacial lakes and installation of an early warning system to mitigate the risks of floods caused by lake outbursts.
He, however, complained that the government authorities have not given due priority to the matter. “Out of the 20 glacial lakes in the country that are at risk of an outburst, an early warning system has been installed in Tsho-Rolpa and Imja only.”
The locals in the downstream settlements are very worried about the possible risk of inundation. Isak Rai, a resident of Khandbari Municipality-2, said the authorities should take initiatives to drain out water from the glacial lake and install an early warning system in the area.
Suman Shakya, chief at the District Coordination Committee, said his office would take the necessary initiative to study the possible threat of glacial lake outbursts and work to minimise the risk.
“We will soon coordinate with concerned authorities and organisations and take initiatives to mitigate the risk of such outbursts,” he added.
In April, 2017, a glacial lake named Langmale in Yanglekharka had burst, causing floods in nearby settlements. According to Chhopal Sherpa, a local, the flood swept away two houses, a hotel and five animal sheds and destroyed four wooden bridges in the area.