Ganges, Brahmaputra among major South Asian river basins to feel impact of climate change: Report : The Tribune India

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Ganges, Brahmaputra among major South Asian river basins to feel impact of climate change: Report

Upstream dam construction and climate change projections are likely to reduce dry season flows in downstream areas, affecting millions of lives

Ganges, Brahmaputra among major South Asian river basins to feel impact of climate change: Report

Photo for representation. iStock



PTI

New Delhi, March 20

The alarming impact of climate change will be felt on South Asia’s major river basins, including the Ganges, Indus and Brahmaputra, according to a new report.

It also noted that the critical intersection of anthropogenic activities and shifting climate patterns can spell dire consequences for about a billion people in the area.

According to the report— ‘Elevating River Basin Governance and Cooperation in the HKH Region’—on these three rivers, there is an immediate need for a climate-resilient approach to river basin management.

The Hindu Kush Himalayas (HKH) are the freshwater sources of South Asia and parts of Southeast Asia. Water originating from their snow, glaciers and rainfall feed the 10 largest river systems in Asia.

The Ganges basin, often regarded as sacred and essential to more than 600 million individuals across the Indian subcontinent, is facing mounting environmental threats. Rapid industrialisation, urbanisation and intensive agricultural practices have exacted a toll on the river’s ecological health. The indiscriminate discharge of sewage and industrial waste has severely polluted the water, posing significant risks to both human health and the environment, the report said.

Alongside these anthropogenic activities, the impacts of climate change are exacerbating existing challenges, particularly in the form of escalating flooding and droughts, it said.

The monsoon season—critical for replenishing water resources—now brings devastating floods while dry seasons worsen water scarcity, especially in downstream areas such as Bangladesh. These climate-related hazards disproportionately affect vulnerable groups, including women, people with disabilities and marginalised communities, the report added.

Similarly, the Indus river—a lifeline for more than 268 million people across Pakistan, India, Afghanistan and China—is under unprecedented stress due to climate change. Rising temperatures, erratic monsoons and environmental degradation are pushing the basin towards a crisis point.

The scale of climate change impacts in the Indus basin is overwhelming, undermining food security, livelihoods and water security, the report said.

Variations in the timing and intensity of monsoon rains are already having profound impacts on the health and sustainability of the basin.

On top of that, environmental degradation, including increasing agricultural and industrial pollution, is degrading the riverine environment, adversely affecting freshwater fisheries and eroding the ecological health of the river, the report said.

These challenges are compounded by existing socioeconomic vulnerabilities, further exacerbating the plight of marginalised communities, it added.

In the Brahmaputra basin, climate change—coupled with dams and development work—is poised to escalate flooding and droughts, particularly in its lower basin.

Glacial melt rates are expected to rise, impacting water availability across the region. While currently there are no major water diversions in the basin, upstream dam construction and climate change projections are likely to reduce dry season flows in downstream areas, affecting millions of lives, the report stated.

#Climate change #Environment


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