With erratic snowfall, melting of small glaciers affecting water flow in the rivers coupled with a rise in temperature inducing conducive conditions for invasion of insects, villages in the cold desert of Western Himalayas are bearing the brunt of climate change.
The economically backward and deprived local communities have already started feeling the heat as water supply, agriculture-based livelihoods and infrastructures in the region face stress due to the global warming, thanks to the greenhouse gases emissions across the world.
“Even though we cannot establish scientifically the changes in weather we can sense that its gradually becoming more warmer during summer in Lahaul and Spiti with temperature shooting up to even 30 degree Celsius as compared to 14 to 15 degrees Celsius a few years ago,” says Rigzin Samphel, Zila Parishad Vice Chairman from a village in Lahaul on the Indo-Tibet border in Himachal Pradesh.
“There is an acute water shortage as small glaciers are melting. The natural ponds have dried up and now we are depending on water sheds which is not sufficient to meet our agricultural needs,” Samphel adds.
Aziz Mir, retired senior scientist from Leh echoes similar sentiments. “We are witnessing a lot of environmental changes. There is no heavy rainfall which we used to witness a few years ago, glaciers such as Khurdang have vanished in front of our eyes.”