In a bid to save the Himalayas from further degradation, prominent environmentalist and Magsaysay award recipient Chandi Prasad Bhatt has asked the government to establish a multi-purpose institute to examine the changes in the glaciers, lakes, and forests in the region. Bhatt,in a letter to Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh, Congress President Sonia Gandhi and others, said the Himalayan region was under constant threat due to increased incidents of floods and landslide. “43 per cent
the area of our country lies in the region of Ganga, Brahmaputra and other rivers originating from it and these rivers contribute almost 63 per cent to the water resources,” Bhatt said, adding, the entire system will be affected if the region was affected.
According to the scientists, Himalayan glaciers are shrinking and rivers are changing their course due to which the frequency of floods and landslides is increasing, he said. “Every year during monsoon, millions of people are rendered homeless and property worth crores is destroyed due to floods and it also affects the economy of our country,” he said, adding, the region also needs special attention because the entire Himalayan region lies in Zone IV and V, the most active seismic region, making it vulnerable to earthquakes. An ”Eco Task Force”, set up by the Planning Commission in 1982 for development of Himalaya, had recommended an ”Eco Development Commission” chaired by Prime Minister but nothing has happened as of now and with the increase in temperature, glaciers are shrinking, and threat is looming large on the Eco system, he said.
Reflection of Climate Himalaya Initiative: What Bhatt ji has asked, holds true in terms of the availability of data and implementation strategies in the region. We must advocate for such an institution in the region, as it seems that, the existing one are not able to do, what they are entrusted to, on various issues of forest, glaciers, rivers, lakes and disasters. Our research and science is not being aptly communicated to the communities living in these fragile mountains. We need to focus on the important issue of communicating our science to the people to better adapt towards climatic vulnerabilities and upcoming disasters.