Depletion of Himalayan glaciers a crisis


This could impact the livelihood of 2.6 billion people, who are dependent on the water and natural resources harnessed from the 12 major rivers fed by the glaciers, which may lead to a humanitarian crisis, they pointed out.

On the first day of the two-day conclave on “Indian Himalayan glaciers, change and livelihoods”, various organisations and institutions researching on the Himalayan eco-system gave elaborate presentations touching various aspects of the issue.
The conclave has been called to focus the attention on the critical need to ensure sustainable development of the Himalayan region by responding to the challenges posed by climate change to its eco-system. Senior ministers and officials from the five Himalayan states have assembled for deliberations here.

An action plan would be thrashed out of the recommendations from experts when the chief ministers from the five Himalayan states –– Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand –– meet here on Friday.
“The consensus emerging from the conclave would be fed into the National Mission on Sustaining the Himalayan eco system under the National Action Plan on Climate Change recently finalised under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh,” said Asha Swarup, chief secretary of Himachal Pradesh while inaugurating the two-day conclave.

Setting the tone for the conclave, Swarup said the hill states no longer evoked the imagery of lush green meadows, dense forests and rich flora and fauna and clean air and water, but were facing unprecedented challenges from infrastructure development, urbanisation and growth of tourism.

Representatives from all the five states said the effects of global warming were apparent with the rise of temperature in their states in the past decade besides seasonal shifts that have necessitated change in cropping pattern in the hilly areas.
Pointing out to several studies on the Himalayan glaciers, Dr Syed Iqbal Hasnain, from The Energy and Resources Institute, Delhi, said the scientists projected a 43 per cent decrease in glacial area on average by the year 2070 and 75 per cent decrease by the end of 21st century at the current warming rate.

Dr Anil V Kulkarni from the Space Applications Centre,  Ahmedabad, said monitoring of glaciers and seasonal snow is important to assess the availability of water in north Indian rivers. He pointed out that studies had shown that the total area under glaciers had shrunk 16 percent in 40 years from 5,866 square km in 1962 to 4,921 square km in 2001-04.
DH News Service

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