Receding glaciers : The Tribune India

Receding glaciers

Risk from climate change has to be minimised

Receding glaciers

Photo for representation only. File photo

The decline in the area under glaciers in the major river basins of Sutlej, Beas, Ravi and Chandrabhaga in Himachal Pradesh is as much about the challenges posed by climate change as about the hurdles that efforts to encourage the use of clean energy can face. Data from the State Centre on Climate Change of the HP Council for Science, Technology and Environment says that there has been a continuous retreating trend in the total area under glaciers along with a reduction in the area under snow. All this is expected to adversely affect generation of hydropower, the main revenue-earning sector for the state.

Himachal Pradesh has been laying renewed thrust on hydropower generation, tourism and horticulture to attract investment and boost employment opportunities. Last year, the Central Government had sanctioned more than Rs 1,800 crore for the Luhri hydroelectric project on the Sutlej river. Initiating development brings along with it the added responsibility of ensuring that it is sustainable. Locals and environmentalists have already expressed concern over the possible damage, for instance in Kinnaur, where there have been protests over the execution of the Jangi Thopan power project. Also, hydropower projects have their life cycle and may need to be reviewed, as reflected in the decision to hand over the Shanan hydropower project at Jogindernagar to Himachal Pradesh from Punjab after the completion of its lease over maintenance issues.

While the problem of glaciers melting may be attributed to factors such as rise in temperature, erratic weather pattern and climate change, care has to be taken to ensure that the disasters are not man-made. Continuous monitoring of the glaciers and the points of origin of rivers is required along with a state of preparedness in downstream areas to avert and minimise damage from possible calamities. The country has been prioritising the use of new and renewable sources of energy. There is already demand to reduce the use of coal for power generation in view of pollution. Proper watch is required to protect and harness the country’s water resources. 

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