After depending all these years on the West for data on glaciers in the country, the Environment Ministry has initiated an ambitious indigenous scientific research to determine and monitor their health.

“So far we have been depending on research conducted by the West on what is happening to our glaciers and environment. There is an urgent need to have our own studies by our scientists, which has so far been lacking,” Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said recently.

He said only about 10 glaciers have been studied at all and long-term temperature data is available only in Srinagar.

“But we need them in Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Arunanchal Pradesh and other Himalayan States. We have sanctioned Rs 3 crore for setting up 15 new weather stations with the help of the Almora-based GB Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development,” Mr. Ramesh said.

Each station will cost Rs 20 lakh.

The ministry is also working with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) for satellite mapping of various glaciers on which Rs 8 crore will be spent in three years.

Mr. Ramesh said that around Rs 4 crore will be spent on TERI Institute for Black Carbon study and its impact on glaciers.

“We have got a concrete proposal from the TERI for study on soot (also known as black carbon) to be conducted by eminent scientists V. Ramanathan and Syed Hasnain, who are strong proponents of carbon soot impact on glaciers,” Mr. Ramesh said.

According to a study by Mr. Ramanathan, black carbon has accelerated the melting of glaciers, which feed the rivers of more than half the world.

The soot both absorbs heat while in the atmosphere and decreases the Earth’s reflectivity when it settles on otherwise white glaciers, he claims.

However, Mr. Ramesh said that black carbon reduction efforts should not be linked to the ongoing U.N. climate negotiations.

He also stressed on appointing more talented and capable scientists for the purpose.