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Scorcher of a summer on cards

After a severe winter, brace yourselves for a scorchingly hot summer, if the present unprecedented heatwave in the Himalayan region continues.

india Updated: Feb 10, 2006 03:53 IST

After a severe winter, brace yourselves for a scorchingly hot summer, if the present unprecedented heatwave in the Himalayan region continues. And this means bad news both on the water and power fronts in the northern plains.

As it is, snowfall this winter has been very low. And now the winter temperature is touching a new high. According to weather department officials in Shimla, the average maximum temperature in the region in the last month has been the highest in the past two decades. And there is no sign of an early respite.

This double blow (no water, soaring temperatures) isn’t bad just for the rabi crops and apples; it could herald an early summer in the northern belt. The Uttranchal hills, one of the most water-fed areas in the region, is already experiencing a severe water crisis, says Dr R.K. Pachauri, director general at The Energy and Research Institute (TERI). “Good snowfall ensures continuous water is fed to small tributaries of major rivers. Most of the tributaries have already dried up,” he adds.

Less water in the rivers not only means less drinking water in the plains, it could also leave people powerless since the turbines of hydro-power plants run only if there’s sufficient water in the reservoir. “It happened on a few occasions in Himachal last summer even though the winter was good,” says a senior Delhi government official.

Though environmentalists blame it on nature, the conditions are also due to the climate change in the Himalayan region. “The dramatic changes are more because of natural factors. But global warming has been causing fast meltdown of glaciers, which is cause for concern for all of us,” says Dr Pauchari.

First Published: Feb 10, 2006 03:53 IST