First commission on study of glaciers launched by Sikkim

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Gangtok, Jan 17 (UNI) Sikkim government today launched the first commission in the country to study the melting of Sikkim Himalayan glaciers and its impact.

''Ours is the first and only state to take this initiative, which can take national and global dimension,'' Chief Minister Pawan Chamling said while inaugurating the meeting of the eight-member commission.

Prof S I Hasnain, senior fellow, Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi heads the commission, which includes experts from ISRO, JNU and other national institutes.

The commission has been empowered to review the current state of glaciers, snowmelt and potential impact of climate change on the Sikkim Himalayan region.

The state has 84 glaciers, the largest number in the country, covering an area of 691 sq km with a snowfield area of 251 sq kms acting as natural reservoirs for water supply to the major river systems in the state.

The largest glacier, Zemu, covers an area of 116.8 sq kms.

Besides affecting the livelihood of a huge mass of the hill population, the glaciers meltdown can be disastrous for the array of hydel power plants being constructed in Teesta river and other river basins of the state and neighbouring states.

After a study, the committee would suggest measures for modern, scientific and technological interventions on the issue of glaciology management and draw up an action plan.

The commission would submit its recommendations by December, this year and be implemented soon, Mr Chamling said.

The Chief Minister also highlighted the bio-diversity richness of the Himalayan state and added that the global climatic changes might adversely affect the system.

Commission chairman Prof Hasnain said they would also be making a detailed inventory of glacial lakes and wetlands in the state by placing hydrometer stations and Met stations near the glacial systems.

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