General view of the place where members of NDRF conduct a rescue operation, after a part of a glacier broke away, in Tapovan, Uttarakhand, on Thursday. Reuters
Environmentalists have urged the Indian government to review its policy of building hydropower dams in fast-warming mountain regions, after an apparent glacier collapse this week led to flooding that swept away one dam and left at least 26 people dead.
The Sunday flash flood in India's northern Uttarakhand state, triggered by what scientists said they believed was a large avalanche of glacier ice and rock, left up to 200 people missing in the Himalaya region.
Rescuers this week were racing to try to free dozens of dam construction workers trapped in a tunnel by debris carried by the wave of floodwater.
Scientists said the disaster was difficult to directly link to climate change in a region where landslides are common — though temperatures are rising faster in the Hindu Kush-Himalaya mountains than in other parts of the region.
But Anil Kulkarni, a glacier expert at the Bengaluru-based Indian Institute of Science, said global warming and "local factors such as deforestation for developmental projects and large-scale construction activities could have contributed to the disaster."
Himalayan glacier bursts in India, triggers flood villages evacuated
14 dead, 170 missing after Indian glacier breaks off
Stark warning on melting Himalayan glaciers in major study
Indian soldiers in Siachen Glaciers extreme temperature break eggs with hammer
Continuing construction of hydropower dams in the region needs reconsideration, not just because of warming risks but because of broader environmental impacts, said Sunita Narain, head of the New Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment.
About 7,000 megawatts worth of hydroelectric projects are already operating or being constructed in the fragile mountains of Uttarakhand, she said.
The projects are going ahead as India tries to move to cleaner renewable energy and provide more power for development, including in more remote regions.
But such efforts need to be limited by "the carrying capacity of the fragile Himalayan region, which is even more at risk because of climate change", Narain told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
If dam building continues, more disasters like this week's are likely, she said.
"There is no question that we are going to see more of this, not less, unless we change the way we do business with the environment," Narain said, urging "better-studied decisions on the projects."
Jigmet Takpa, joint secretary at India’s Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, said that improving provision of energy in India was crucial for the population's welfare.
Rescue team members work during a relief operation at a destroyed bridge site. Reuters
"Whenever such disasters strike, people start questioning the government. Though it is their right to ask questions, it needs to be understood that natural disasters are beyond the government's control," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
He said India's government and people needed to work together "to develop adaptive strategies to avoid damage", such as ensuring homes are not built near riverbeds.
The programme saw the participation of 130 people from 21 families, who were accompanied on recreational and educational trips in the Emirate of Sharjah.
The country generates around four million tonnes of plastic waste per year, about a third of which is not recycled and ends up in waterways and landfills that regularly catch fire and exacerbate air pollution.
Speaking at the launch of this year's monsoon tree plantation drive near Kahuta, Imran said that in order to address the growing pollution levels and national environmental degradation it was vital that concerted efforts were made to plant trees extensively across the country, reports Dawn news.
“The habit of cycling provides an excellent opportunity to clear mind and thoughts, besides its other healthy and nature-friendly benefits,” the envoy who is in love with cycling shared his feelings in an exclusive interview on Sunday.
A team of young Emirati engineers at the Sharjah Research, Technology and Innovation Park (SRTIP) have achieved a new breakthrough in developing prosthetic limbs using 3D printing technology.
The diameter of the asteroid, which was called “2023 DZ2”, is estimated to be 93 metres, the height of the Big Ben clock tower is 96 meters, and its maximum possible diameter is 96 meters, and scientists claim that it could be as small as 41 meters.
Astronomers had long been searching for comet-like objects entering the Solar System from the vastness of interstellar space, but had never before observed one.
Contacts between Riyadh and Damascus had gathered momentum following a landmark agreement to re-establish ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran, a key ally of President Bashar Al-Assad, a regional source aligned with Damascus said.