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Hydro Dam Collapse: 22,000 People Effected, 40 Dead

In a heart-wrenching incident in India's Himalayan region, nature's fury was unleashed, claiming lives and causing extensive devastation. Deadly flash floods, triggered by heavy rainfall, wreaked havoc as a glacial lake burst through a major dam, resulting in the loss of at least 40 lives and untold suffering. This calamity, while a world away, holds stark parallels to the concerns surrounding the proposed Pioneer-Burdekin Pumped Hydro Project in our very own Eungella.

Hydro dam collapse
The Teesta III hydropower project, built on the Teesta River, took nine years and cost $1.5 billion to construct. It began operations in 2017. [Pankaj Dhungel/AFP]

The Tragedy Unfolds

The catastrophe in India unfolded in the dead of night when the waters of a glacial lake, engorged by relentless rains, breached its boundaries. This unleashed a torrential surge, rupturing the largest hydroelectric dam in Sikkim state and unleashing its full force upon the towns nestled below. The result: a nightmarish deluge that swept away homes, bridges, and hope.


The Rescue and Relief Efforts

In the wake of this disaster, heroic rescue workers sprang into action. More than 2,000 people were pulled from the clutches of the floodwaters, but the toll was already immense. Over 22,000 people found themselves in dire straits, leading state authorities to establish 26 relief camps. These camps became a lifeline for those affected, offering shelter, sustenance, and support amidst the chaos.

Town devastated by hydro dam collapse
Eleven bridges in the Lachan Valley were washed away by the floodwaters, which also hit pipelines and damaged or destroyed more than 270 houses in four districts, officials said. [Prakash Adhikari/AP Photo]

The Himalayan Tragedy and the Pioneer-Burdekin Pumped Hydro Project

The harrowing events in India's Himalayas serve as a somber reminder of the risks associated with large-scale hydroelectric projects. While our region faces different geographical challenges, we cannot ignore the parallels. The proposed Pioneer-Burdekin Pumped Hydro Project, like the dam in Sikkim, raises concerns about the safety of our community and environment.


A Call for Caution and Community

In these trying times, as we follow the news from distant lands, let us reflect on the significance of our own battle here in Eungella. It's a call for caution, prudence, and an unwavering commitment to protecting our precious environment and community. The numbers from India are a stark reminder: 40 lives lost, 2,000 rescued, 26 relief camps, and over 22,000 affected.


As we contemplate the path ahead, let us stand united, drawing inspiration from the broader global context. Let us ensure that the voices of our community are heard, and that our cherished Eungella remains safe, pristine, and untouched by calamity. For it's not just a landscape we seek to preserve, but a way of life, a sanctuary for unique wildlife, and a promise to future generations.

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