Pakistan shelling, global warming triggering avalanches, says army chief Rawat | india-news | Hindustan Times
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Pakistan shelling, global warming triggering avalanches, says army chief Rawat

As many as 21 people, including 15 soldiers, have been killed since last week because of avalanches and snowfall-related deaths in the Kashmir Valley.

india Updated: Jan 29, 2017 21:55 IST
Army soldiers carry out rescue operations in Gurez sector where a severe avalanche took place on Wednesday.
Army soldiers carry out rescue operations in Gurez sector where a severe avalanche took place on Wednesday. (PTI)

Global warming, ecological changes and heavy shelling by Pakistani troops are triggering avalanches in places such as Jammu and Kashmir that had not reported such instances before, army chief General Bipin Rawat said on Sunday.

As many as 21 people, including 15 soldiers, have been killed since last week because of avalanches and snowfall-related deaths in the Kashmir Valley.

“Ceasefire violations and use of heavy weapons by Pakistani troops are leading to loosening of soil, hereby creating danger of a landslide. Global warming is also leading to cracks in glaciers,” he told reporters after paying homage to Major Amit Sagar, who lost his life in an avalanche in Sonamarg on January 25.

The army chief lauded the contribution of Major Sagar, an officer with the Territorial Army, saying he had volunteered for the posting despite the hardships there.

Read | Kashmir shivers in sub-zero temperatures, avalanche alert for Valley and Ladakh

Rawat said the state has been witnessing heavy snowfall over the past 72 hours, and is likely to record similar conditions for the next two-three days.

“Due to global warming, glaciers are witnessing cracks. There are avalanches in areas which had not reported such cases earlier. Avalanches have occurred in Dawar areas, Machil sectors.”

He blamed Pakistani ceasefire violations and use of heavy weapons to shell Indian military posts and villages.

“Many times it affects the soil and loosens it up. When there is a heavy snowfall on such loose soil and if there is a slope, it triggers the danger of an avalanche,” Rawat said.

Army Chief General Bipin Rawat paying homage to Major Amit Sagar at a wreath laying ceremony in New Delhi on Sunday. (PTI Photo)

The army withdraws troops from places at risk of avalanches, but that cannot be always done in positions vulnerable to insurgency.

“Our soldiers are facing it (the danger). Their task is counter-infiltration and despite the hardships they are doing their duty. I wish to assure you (the soldiers). You have been doing your duty with dedication (but) we have to deal with infiltration,” he said.

The army has been taking help of the Snow and Avalanche Study Establishment, a laboratory under the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), to map avalanche-prone areas.

Rawat appealed to families of soldiers who lost their lives in avalanches to bear with the authorities as the “weather is playing a spoilsport in bringing back the bodies of their dear ones”.