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Updated: January 19, 2010 01:01 IST

Government contention vindicated: Jairam Ramesh

Aarti Dhar
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Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh. File Photo
Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh. File Photo

The government on Monday said its contention that there was no immediate and serious threat to the Himalayan glaciers was vindicated with the latest evidence suggesting that the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) claim on the glaciers disappearing by 2035 due to climate change, was not based on scientific evidence.

Contested issue

In 1999, glaciologist Syed Iqbal Hasnain claimed that if the current pace of global warming continued unabated, the Himalayan glaciers would disappear by 2035. The IPCC, a U.N. body, had based its claim on his findings, though the issue was contested right from the beginning.

The Times of London on Sunday quoted Professor Hasnain as saying that his claim was ‘speculative.’

“The Ministry of Environment and Forests’ position on the glacier issue stands vindicated with the latest report in The Times,” Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh told reporters at a Social Sector Editors Conference here.

‘Cause of concern’

“The glaciers are a serious issue and the health of the Himalayan glaciers is a cause of concern. But the alarmist concern of the IPCC that these would disappear by 2035 is not based on an iota of scientific evidence,” Mr. Ramesh said. “Science is complex and we should not rush to conclusions,” he added. With the IPCC expected to retract the claim sometime this week, Mr. Ramesh said there was no substitute for Indian scientific capacity.

‘Incontrovertible’

Quoting from a report on the Himalayan glaciers brought out by his Ministry, which was described as a “voodoo science” by the IPCC, Mr. Ramesh said most glaciers in the region were melting but some like the Siachen were advancing and others like the Gangotri were receding at a decreasing rate. “It is incontrovertible that the Himalayan glaciers were in a precarious health and we cannot ignore it.”

Keeping all these factors in mind, the Ministry has set up a National Institute of Himalayan Glaciology and the impact of black carbon on the glaciers was being monitored.

Have to assess facts first: Pachauri

R.K. Pachauri, chairman of the IPCC, on Monday said he had “absolutely no responsibility” for the unscientific basis of the predictions on the melting of the Himalayan glaciers.

A news agency and several television channels quoted Dr. Pachauri as saying that Syed Iqbal Hasnain, author of the report that was incorporated in the Fourth Assessment report on climate change by the IPCC in 2007, was with Jawaharlal Nehru University when the report was published in 1999.

“I am not responsible for what he did in his past; can’t say anything now. Have to assess facts first,” he said.

Dr. Pachauri said, “I am not taking on anybody. We are carrying out a review of this whole situation and should arrive at something in the next two to three days.”

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