84 glaciers in Sikkim awaiting further study

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Gangtok, Jan 9 (UNI) Sikkim has 84 glaciers covering a total of 691.5 square kms with a snowfield area of 251.22 square kms, official data chronicled through Remote Sensing system reveals.

Mr DG Shrestha, senior scientific officer from Sikkim science and technology department said that the department had mapped the glaciers in collaboration with state forest department with technological support from Space Application Centre, Ahmedabad.

''We have mapped the glaciers in Sikkim Himalaya with the data of 1997 provided from Remote Sensing Satellite,'' Mr Shrestha told UNI.

Out of these 84 glaciers, Zemu the source of river Teesta, is the largest and is located at North Sikkim.

North Sikkim has the highest rate of glaciers with some found in higher regions of West Sikkim which act as natural reservoirs for supply of water to the major river systems in the state.

Though mapping had been done a few years ago, the findings could provide a starting point for the committee constituted by the Sikkim government in September to study the state of glaciers and its impact on the Himalayan state.

Prof. SI Husnain, senior fellow from Centre for Policy Research heads the taskforce that will be compiling information from primary and secondary sources on glaciology. It will review the current status of glaciers and snow melt and their impact upon hydrological reserves. The Commission will give its recommendations by the end of 2008.

The first full fledged meeting of the Commission is expected to be held later this month.

Chief Minister Pawan Chamling had expressed his concern on a number of occasions over receding glaciers and stated that the Zemu glacier had receded by a few kilometers. Further study on the glaciers can reveal the impact of global warming and the lifespan of the glaciers.

A glacial outbrust at Zemu last September had triggered panic in Sikkim and North Bengal along the Teesta river belt.

Experts had said that besides directly impacting the livelihood of a huge mass of the hill population, the glaciers meltdown can be disastrous for the array of hydel power plants that are being built in the Teesta and other river basin in Sikkim and neighbouring states.

UNI BG PL RD 1025

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