Experts call on China, India, Pak, others to share data on Himalayas

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New Delhi, Apr 30 (UNI) There is absolute lack of reliable and sufficient data on the Himalayan region which puts a question mark on all the assessment about impact of climate change or planning about irrgation and other developmental projects involving rivers emanating from the mountain range, environmentalists today observed.

Highlighting the situation, environment experts participating in a Roundtable of 'Rivers of Great Himalayas' called for cooperation among the countries getting water from the rivers of the Himalayan system to cooperate in generating and sharing data on the region.

They said it was high time that India, Pakistan, China, Afghanistan, Bhutan and Nepal started producing more data and shared it with others to evolve an effective response to the climatic challenges facing them.

The Roundtable had been organised by the South Asia Chair of the Global Water Partnership.

Making a presentation on the issue, World Bank Environment expert Sanjay Pahuja said India was heavily dependent on the water of the Himalayan rivers--the Ganga and the Brahmaputra-- as the Ganga has 40 percent of the cultivable land, and the Brahmputra has 40 per cent of the country's hydro potential.

But, he said, the difficulty was that all the future planning for any water and irrigation projects involving the rivers was being done on faulty premises because of the lack of data from the region.

Mr Pahuja said the World Meteorological Organisation(WMO) had recommended 10 to 40 Met stations at every 10,000 sq km in the Himalayas, but in India, the number of Met station was very inadequate and so absolute lack of data on the very important mountain range which sustained almost half of the population of the world.

He said the IPCC report on Climate Change was silent on changes in the Himalayas as it had no data to base its assessment on.

There were some general assesment like increase in temperature, decrease in snow cover, increased precipitation, longer wet season and drier dry season but there was a large amount of uncertainty in the predictions for lack of data, said Mr Pahuja.

Mr Davis Grey of the World Bank said joint action by the countries of the Himalayan region could bring massive benefits in agriculture, development of hydropower, management of environment and disasters like floods and droughts.

A great byproduct of such joint action would be the policy shift from confrontation to cooperation, he said.

He said countries like India, Pakistan, Bhutan, Nepal, China and Afghanistan need to come together for ensuring water security to their future generations.

Mr Chandan Mahanata of the IIT, Guwahati also stressed the need for generating more data on the Himalayan region for a better future planning. ''At present, one cannot exactly tell what will be the impact of climate change on the Ganga and the Brahmaputra as there is absolute lack of data,'' he added.

Secretary, Ministry of Power Anil Razdaan, Chairman of the South Asia Chapter of Global Water Partnership(GWP) and former Union Minister Suresh Prabhu besides Prof MS Swaminathan and a number of MPs also addressed the Conference.

Later, Mr Prabhu told UNI that the GWP was working to bring all the stakeholders together to evolve an integrated respose to the problem of water stress.

''We have been organising meetings where politicians, scientists, environment activists, bureaucrats and representatives of the people and NGOs etc come at one platform to think how to meet the challenge of providing water security,'' he said.

The last regional meeting was held in Islamabad, he said.

''Now we are going to start permanent dialogue among the stakeholders,'' added Mr Prabhu.

UNI NAZ MSJ KP1854

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