Kathmandu, June 22 The Nepali Army has drained one metre of water from Imja Glacier Lake in Solukhumbu in three weeks under the 7.2 million dollar Community Based Flood and Glacial Lake Outburst Risk Reduction Project being operated by the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology. The project aims to reduce possible loss of human lives and infrastructure from a glacial lake outburst flooding in Solukhumbu and the downstream area of Mahottari, Siraha, Saptari and Udaypur. NA personnel have been using excavators and other equipment to release the accumulated water in the lake since June 1. According to the NA, they had started to release the accumulated water by digging temporary outlet channel. “As the channel outlet is helping release the reserved water, the water level in the lake has decreased by at least one metre so far,” Lieutenant Colonel Bharat Lal Shrestha, chief of field team of Nepali Army in Imja, told The Himalayan Times. He added, “We are trying to finish work within two months by adjusting with the risky weather.” Earlier, as only little amount of water was released from the lake through natural flow, the NA had started work to prevent glacial lake outburst flood. NA personnel have constructed a three-metre wide and 1.5-metre deep outlet channel to drain the water. As many as 40 personnel from the national security force have been deployed for the task. The army aims to lower the water level up to three metres by October. Besides army personnel, 62 civilians are also involved in draining the water of Imja Glacial Lake. Despite unfavourable weather lasting almost 22 hours a day, NA personnel have been carrying out work in the snowy weather. “The weather remains friendly for just two hours in the morning,” Lieutenant Colonel Shrestha said. He added that 40 per cent of the work has been completed. Around 10 km south from the world’s highest peak Mt Everest, Imja Lake is situated at 5,010 metres above sea level in the Khumbu region. Due to the difficult terrain, Nepali Army had airlifted the excavator to dig the channel. Spokesperson of Nepali Army, Tara Bahadur Karki, said it was NA’s first experience in disaster risk mitigation programme. “Though we were involved in various rescue operations earlier, this kind of work at a height of 5,010 metres was our first experience” he said. The glacial lake is 180 metres deep, two-km long, 650-metre wide and is spread over 130 hectares. The surface area of the lake is said to have expanded from 0.4 to 1.01 square kilometres between 1984 and 2009 due to rapid melting of snow. The programme to drain the lake water was funded by United Nations Development Programme and the Global Environment Facility. An estimated 96,562 vulnerable people are living in the downstream areas. A total of 3,808 glaciers and 1,466 glacial lakes have been identified in Nepal. Around 20 glacial lakes pose high risk of glacial lake outburst floods due to climate change.