Check recession of Himalayan
Environment experts are concerned about the ecological imbalances
resulting from the recession of the Himalayan glaciers caused
by several factors besides global warming.
glaciers, warn environmentalists
Environmentalist Sunderlal Bahuguna recently called for a ban
on human interference with the glaciers like trekking and mountaineering.
Glaciers and forests are the permanent storehouses of water in
the Himalayas and must be protected at all costs, he stressed.
Bahuguna made his suggestions in a paper which he presented to
the Planning Commission. The paper, 'Plan priorities - a grassroots
approach', makes several suggestions to preserve the fragile Himalayan
Another study by the Glaciological Survey of India also points
out that the glaciers' recession is causing a high level of ecological
stress in the Himalayas.
The Himalayas have one of the most important glacier systems in
the world and cover a vast area. The nearly 15,000 glaciers are
an important source of fresh water for North India's perennial
The Gangotri glacier in the Garhwal Himalayas has been shrinking
at an alarming rate of over 20 metres every year since 1990. Over
the last 50 years, the Gangotri glacier has receded 600 metres.
The glacier regime, say experts, influences the climate of the
area. Year to year variation of the snow cover has a direct effect
on the climate of the northern hemisphere.
The glaciers' recession is also affecting the unique plant wealth
of the high-altitude meadows in the Himalayas. The brahmakamal,
barmoola, laljari, neekanthi and ratanjot - all medicinal and
aromatic plants - are found in these meadows. In Garhwal, these
meadows are called bugyals. In Kashmir, they are known
It is all the more significant to check the recession of these
glaciers as there is a growing emphasis on hydroelectric power
projects and irrigation schemes in the higher reaches of the Himalayan
Environmentalists are realising the importance of snow-cover studies
in understanding the cryogenic environment of the Himalayas. Glaciological
studies in India are, however, still at an elementary level.
Such studies are expensive and involve work on very inhospitable
terrain for a long period.