Glaciers: no reason for false alarm

In the last few years, false alarms have been raised about the coming extinction of Himalayan Glaciers. Many experts have jumped into the foray. However, it is necessary to educate The Tribune’s readers about the true picture.

One, glacier contributes only 15 per cent of the water supply of a river. The rest comes from catchment areas, springs and streams that have nothing to do with glaciers.

Two, the so-called receding of Himalayan glaciers is a false alarm and such news is spread to justify the existence of chairs and similar jobs in universities or government departments. There is a cycle of advancement and receding of glaciers and this has been happening over millions of years.

Three, Dr J.S. Sharma (The Tribune, June 17) states that Shigri is the world’s second largest glacier. This is not true. There are over 100 glaciers in the 50 km-80 km club, most of these being in the Karakoram-Siachen, Baltoro, Biafo-Gyang, Chogo-Lungma, Hispar and Batura. Shigri is only 29 km long and is not even 100th in the list of giant glaciers.

And four, there is no reason for ringing the alarm bells as Dr Samra has done. Glacial lakes are formed and then drained many times. In 1923, the advancing Rimo glacier blocked the Shyok river and the dam lasted for 12 years until it burst in 1935 when the unleashed flood waters reached Attock on the Indus, 700 km downstream. However, such cataclysms happen rarely.



Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor, neatly hand-written or typed in double space, should not exceed the 150-word limit. These can be sent by post to the Letters Editor, The Tribune, Sector 29, Chandigarh-160030.

Letters can also be sent by e-mail to: Letters@tribuneindia.com

— Editor-in-Chief



The Pare Chu lake in Spiti was not of any great magnitude and false alarm bells led to the government shutting down the Nathpa Jhakri power plant for fear of a cataclysm that never happened.

Dr Samra’s report reminds me of conclusions arrived at by Dr Hasnain (then JNU expert on glaciers) that Gangotri glacier is receding because pilgrims cook food on stoves at the sount of Gangotri. Whereupon, via the newspapers, I enlightened Dr Hasnain that 120 cubic km of ice of the great Gangotri glacier cannot be threatened by pilgrims cooking food.

It is really regrettable that officers like Dr Samra make incorrect statements. I am writing this not by going through files but because in the 45 years I traversed 40,000 km in the Himalayas.

SERBJEET SINGH, Film Producer & Director, Dalhousie (HP)

Zafar’s ghazal

In his piece “Zafar has followers in Myanmar” (June 7), Manish Chand mentions that the grave of Bahadur Shah Zafar, India’s last Mughal emperor, was found in 1991, being earlier concealed by the British. I am reminded of Zafar’s following ghazal which intensely portrays his anguish at dying so far away from home, in an alien land: Kitna hai badnaseeb Zafar dafn ke liye/Do gaz zameen bhi na mili ku’e yaar mein.

Zafar was a good poet. His verses still echo not only in Indian history but also in our hearts.


Falling standards

The National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration’s revelation that the students’ enrolment at primary level is decreasing in seven out of 12 districts of Himachal Pradesh is alarming. There is no end to the present craze for admitting children in English-medium public schools. These schools boast of good faculty, better facilities and good results. No wonder, the students’ enrolment in these institutions is very high.

Government schools too should try to emulate these schools and impart quality education. The teachers’ involvement and cooperation is a must. Regular interaction between the teachers and the parents of students will be of great help.

Prof PARVEEN RANA, Hoshiarpur

Delimitation in HP

Fresh delimitation of parliamentary and assembly constituencies in Himachal Pradesh is on the cards. However, it is not clear whether this vital exercise would affect the existing constituency in Una district or would it just help maintain status quo? Would the Assembly constituency in which Una falls, continue to fall under the reserved category, ever since it was carved out several decades ago, or deserved this time?

TARA CHAND, Ambota (Una)

Implement the order

The Punjab government sanctioned DA and DR to pensioners of the government-aided privately managed schools at par with government pensioners vide order No. 10/11/94-2ED 3 dated March 26, 1998. However, this order has not been followed in letter and spirit. The instalments of DA and DR have not been sanctioned to the pensioners of privately managed schools for years. Will the Punjab Governor look into the matter?


Career in Army

In his article “A second career for the jawans” (June 4), Maj-Gen S.P. Kapoor (retd) has rightly brought out the facts. First, as regards the officers’ cadre, brilliant youth are least interested to join the Army because they are much more career conscious and money-minded. They would prefer to join MNCs because of the high salary and perks they offer.

In the Army, the General’s fixed limit ends at Rs 30,000 a month, that too, after 40-42 years of service and at the age of 60-62. However, in MNCs, a 25-year-old youth gets the same salary in the first year of service itself!

Secondly, the worst sufferers after leaving the Army are the jawans who retire at 35 years with no land to till. Even these well trained, disciplined, physically and mentally fit soldiers are forced to sell chana bhatura on roadside trollies to earn their daily bread. There is need to take some concrete steps to make an Army career attractive. Retired jawans should also be re-employed.

Col BEANT SINGH (retd), Jalandhar Cantt

Keep Shimla clean

During a visit to Shimla recently, I was surprised to see that some areas near the bus stand were not clean. I wonder what the municipal authorities are doing to enhance the image of the tourist centre and hill station. Most garbage bins have become unserviceable and hence need replacement. The tunnel used by small vendors is shabby with garbage strewn all around. The Chief Minister should take personal interest in keeping the city neat and clean.

LOVIKA KATOCH, Tharoo (Kangra)


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