Aarti Dhar

NEW DELHI: The Ministry of Environment and Forests will bring out a white paper on the current state of scientific knowledge on the Himalayan glaciers.

It will establish an institutional mechanism to monitor the trends and variability of glaciers and study the impact of changes on the hydrological regime in the region.

This was decided at a high-power meeting of the agencies involved in the Ministry last week which observed that there was a need to continuously monitor seasonal snow cover and variability of glaciers. The white paper will be prepared by V.K. Raina, former Deputy Director-General, Geological Survey of India (GSI) . The paper will be finalised by August 10 for public debate.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has prepared a proposal for setting up the mechanism in collaboration with the Ministry, and the Department of Science and Technology which has been accepted.

The initial expenditure on the mechanism will be Rs.3 crore.

The experts told the meeting that there was no conclusive evidence to suggest that the rate of retreat of the Himalayan glaciers was being caused by climate change and that the rate of retreat was accelerating, since the period of observation was short.

However, the experts pointed out that this did not mean that the health of the glaciers was improving and as evidence suggested that debris accumulation near snouts in some glaciers was significant.

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