Shimla, May 21
Notwithstanding a prolonged winter spell during 2022-23, the snow cover in the river basins of the Chenab, Beas, Ravi and the Sutlej in the Himalayan region of Himachal has declined by 10 per cent.
The reduced snow cover this winter has led to the fear of an impending water shortage during the summer and a decline in power generation in the state. As per the mapping of the seasonal snow cover undertaken by the State Centre for Climate Change in the HP Council for Science, Technology and Environment, an overall 10 per cent decline has been witnessed over previous years.
Chief Secretary Prabodh Saxena says, “There is clear evidence that most glaciers are losing mass. With Shimla receiving no snowfall this winter, there is fear that the state may face water shortage during the summer. Initiatives like the adoption of e-vehicles and renewable energy need to be put in place to arrest this disturbing trend.”
Disturbing trend (decline in 2022-23)
Scientists have been expressing concern over the accelerated glacial melting and variations in the snow cover in the Himalayan region over the past few years.
There has been 0.39 per cent decline in the snow cover in the Chenab basin, 6.9 per cent in the Beas basin, 22.42 per cent in the Ravi basin and 14.61 per cent in the Sutlej river basin. Good snowfall augurs well for hydropower generation as river basins sustain hydrology.
DC Rana, Director, Environment, Science and Technology, says, “The winter precipitation was mapped in all major river basins like the Chandra, Bhaga, Miyar, Beas, Parvati, Pin, Spiti and the Baspa through satellite imagery between October and April. There was early snowfall in October and November last year but the river basins of the Chenab, Ravi, Beas and the Sutlej witnessed negative trend by way of a decrease in the overall snow cover in 2022-23.”
The Ravi and Sutlej basins have been the worst affected. Due to the early onset of winter, the Beas and Chenab basins indicated a slight increase in the snow cover but the Ravi and Sutlej basins showed a negative trend. However, all river basins showed an overall negative trend with a reduced snow cover in comparison to 2021-22.
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