NEW DELHI, Feb 7: Increasing human intervention in ecologically sensitive Himalayan region is making it more vulnerable to climate change, environment experts said on Sunday as a glacier broke off at Joshimath in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district, triggering massive flood in the state.

The glacier burst triggered massive flood in the Dhauli Ganga river and caused large-scale devastation in the upper reaches of Himalayas.

Over 150 labourers working at a power project in Tapovan-Reni are feared dead, an Indo-Tibetan Border Police spokesperson said while quoting the project-in charge. Three bodies have been recovered so far.

It is an unfortunate incident. Our thoughts are with the missing construction workers and affected people of Uttarakhand. While exact cause of this incident is yet to be ascertained and needs an honest investigation, it is evident that increasing human interventions in ecologically sensitive Himalayan region are making it more vulnerable to climate change.

Heavy construction work in the fragile eco-sensitive zones should be avoided, Avinash Chanchal, senior climate and energy campaigner, Greenpeace India said.

Another expert, Anjal Prakash, one of the lead authors of a special report on oceans and cryosphere of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), said while it was too early to explain the cause of the devastation, prima facie it seemed to be due to climate change and global warming which has become an alarming and irreversible situation now.

He also said that Himalayan region is the least monitored region and requires the government to spend more resources in tracking these areas closely so that there is more awareness.

Himalayan region is the least monitored region and this event actually shows how vulnerable we could be. I would request the government to spend more resources in monitoring the region better so that we have more information about the change process. The result would be that we are more aware and could develop better adaptation practices, Prakash, who is also a Research Director and Adjunct Associate Professor at the Indian School of Business (ISB), Hyderabad, said.

Terming the glacier burst as a rare incident, Mohd Farooq Azam, Assistant Professor, Glaciology and Hydrology, IIT Indore said satellite and Google Earth images do not show a glacial lake near the region, but there is a possibility of a water pocket.

“It is a rare incident for a glacial burst to happen. Satellite and Google Earth images do not show a glacial lake near the region, but there is a possibility that there may be a water pocket in the region. Water pockets are lakes inside the glaciers, which may have erupted leading to this event. We need further analysis, weather reports and data to confirm if this indeed was the case, he said.

Azam further said the thermal profile of ice is increasing, as earlier the temperature of ice ranged from -6 to -20 degree Celsius, it is now -2 degrees, making it more susceptible to melting.

It is unlikely that this was a cloud burst since weather reports in Chamoli district show sunny weather till today with no record of precipitation. There is no doubt that global warming has resulted in the warming of the region. – PTI