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Thursday, Sep 19, 2019

Ladakhis concerned over receding of glaciers

People recalls the good old days when the mountains in the region used to be covered with snow throughout the year, reports Faisul Yaseen.

india Updated: Jan 30, 2007 17:28 IST
Faisul Yaseen
Faisul Yaseen

People in the cold desert region of Ladakh wear a concerned look whenever the mountains surrounding them catch their eye.

They recall the good old days when the mountains in the region used to be covered with snow throughout the year and the streams surged with blue waters. Things have changed now.

Global warming and in-house effect are the new terminologies people in the region are coming to know.

Tashi Angchok, 22, who hails from Ladakh, has seen glaciers in the region far and wide while trekking with foreign tourists. Recollecting his childhood days he says, "The Ladakh range of mountains used to be covered by snow throughout the year. Today the mountains are dry.

The only snow we see now is in winters. That too melts soon." Also known as 'Little Tibet', Ladakh is like a bowl where the habitation is on foots of the dry barren mountains, which remain covered by snow.

The region is also known for famous mountain peaks Nun and Kun. It was Ladak where the 1999 Kargil war was fought between the Indian troops and infiltrators backed by Pakistani troops.

Mohammad Illyas Tak, a resident of Kargil, remembers how during his school days in seventies his friends would go on picnic for days together to Lingshed village in Leh. "We used to sit on the banks of the beautiful stream, which passed through the village.

Many villages nearby used the water of the stream to irrigate their crops. Today the
stream is dry," said Tak spotting a look of concern.

The glaciers in Ladakh extend upto 25 to 30 km and in all 5067 glaciers confine in Indus, Ganga and Brahamaputra basins covering an area of 9139 square km of Himalayas extending from Kashmir to Arunachal Pradesh.

Nearly 60 per cent of these glaciers occupy the part of Himalayas spread over Indus, Shyok, and Jehlum and Chenab river basins of Jammu and Kashmir.

Innayat Ali, 19, another resident of Kargil concurs with Tak and Angchok. "My parents used to say gushing water flowed through Indus.

Now anybody can walk across its banks in Ladakh," he said.

The glaciers in Ladakh cover almost 13 per cent of the land area of the state and are distributed over Lidder, Sind, Drass and Suru valleys. They also include the world famous Siachen glacier, as known as the world's largest battlefield.

At a length of 72 km, Siachen is the largest glacier in the world outside the Polar Regions. Other prominent glaciers in Ladakh are Baltoro, Hispar, Nubra, Biafo, and Chong Kidman, Rakaposhi and Saltoro.

However, the glaciological experts term receding of glaciers in the Himalayas a "myth" propagated by the Western countries.

Convenor Regional Centre for Field Operations and Research on Himalayan Glaciology MN Koul told Hindustan Times that even if the temperatures rise to a considerable extent, it is not going to lead to immediate retreat of the glaciers.

"Higher temperatures will lead to more of sublimation, which will mean more snowfall in upper catchments. It'll have a negligible influence," said Koul who has been working on associated glaciological studies for more than 25-years now.

"In Zanaskar valley, while a portion of Durung Drung and Kangriz glaciers is retreating, another is advancing," said Koul who has thoroughly studied no lesser than seven Himalayan glaciers.

Koul said glaciers are fed from aerosol, which comes from the western disturbances and added that the global warming, which may lead to disturbance in the monsoons and other climatic changes cannot harm the glaciers in Ladakh, which are at a height of more than 5,000 feet from the sea level.

"We cannot compare the studies on the alps in the West with the Himalayas because there is a difference of more than 3,000 metres between the two," he adds.

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First Published: Jan 30, 2007 17:28 IST