Doomsday nears


It seemed as if I’d been waiting for this news. No it is not a happy news, but a sad one. My RSS Reader highlighted that about 3500 cattle-head and around 20 shepherds were trapped in Dinchhina village in Kinnaur district after a glacier broke in the alpine pastures, 50-km from Rekong Peo.

But isn’t breaking of glaciers common in the higher altitude? Yes. But as per media reports, this one broke off due to early meltdown of snow. And where’s the Shiv Linga gone at the Amarnath Cave? Again, everyone has shifted the blame on global warming. I do not deny that. But what are we doing to slow down the process?

Last Sunday, while at our meet at Himachal Bhawan, we had a chance to talk to Lok Vigyan Kendra’s Rahul Saxena. I told him, why are we making a hue and cry about Ford’s ski village. He’ll leave himself after a few years when there is no snow. He asked, “Do you think he’ll depend on natural snow? No. He’ll have imported machines and freezers which will freeze water and through cannons this snow will be spread over kilometres of area. We are protesting for that… for the sheer wastage of huge quantity of water. We don’t have much water to drink and here they’ll be using water for a ski village.”

But I counter questioned him, “Is he going to draw water from the sea? If there won’t be any snow, and the rivers would have dried up, where the hell is he going to get water from?” Well, Rahul had no answer to that. I’ll reiterate this point, though I’ve said this earlier as well, and keep on saying it repeatedly till it drills down into everyone’s head and we start acting fast… that it’s not just Himachal that’ll be affected because of less snow. It’s the whole nation. Continuous flow of rivers is maintained by slow melting of snow through out the year. While earlier, fresh snow used to melt, but now it’s the glaciers that have started melting and in a few years, say 15 years all these mountains would be barren – bereft of snow. Meanwhile, as the snow starts melting faster, we might see the level of rivers rising up. And when the glaciers would get thinner and start receding up on the mountains, the water level in the rivers would go down. And once the mountains are barren, rivers would dry up. No Yamuna, no Ganga, no Satluj, no Beas, no Ravi…

Today we call Himachal as the power hub of the country. We are building dams, we’ve routed out villages to form dams. Well, if you didn’t know, Tattapaani, is the next to be rooted out. The village, the temple, the hot water springs, all would be finished. These dams can be good museum houses and picnic spots and Archaeological Survey of India’s precious property in 15 years from now as they won’t be able to generate any power as there won’t be any water. We’ll be largely depending on rain water. And yes, there will be flash floods too. How? Global temperature would have risen enough by then. Rivers would have dried up. The sea level too would have risen, and eaten into the coastal areas of India and the world. Imagine, Mumbai submerged into sea. No Kanyakumari. Our national boundaries would have to be redrawn and marked kilometres inside. And as I said global temperatures rise, water evaporates faster. And when it does, there would be thunder storms, because of the recession created by this evaporation. And it would be heavy rains bringing flash floods. Do you think, you can generate power out of that? We already are having problems with the Nathpa Jhakri hydel plant because of silt. These flash floods would erode away soil, breaking the mountains down. The whole nation is going to be devoid of water. And is that the end of the world? Do we need World Wars to bring the world to an end.

I really don’t have any solution. I feel, the solution it as a mass scale. First the government has to realise the lurking danger. Tree plantations, immobilising petrol/diesel run vehicles, the solution can be anything. But it’s the government that has to realise this and the message spread across to people. The message has to reach schools, colleges, people have to be shaken off their complacency.

If we haven’t still realised the danger, imagine this… no rivers, no regular water sources, no water to drink, no irrigation, no crops. Probably, we’ll be harvesting more rain water then and it would sell like petrol today… $75 a barrel. We’ll have queues in front of Water Pumps, licences would be given out for Water pumps. We’ll have water refineries, drilled a thousand metres into the earth. But that may solve our drinking purpose. But that certainly cannot irrigate our fields. Don’t depend on the heavy rains, as they’ll wash away everything. Remember these would bring flash floods.

The first step to the solution is to recognise the problem. The fear factor has to step in first, which should spin the brains into finding a solution.

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A perfect story-teller, who is madly in love with the hills. Shimla is his first love, and probably the last too. Won't get tired reading Rudyard Kipling. Hopes to pick up poetry again soon.

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