'Melting glacier would rupture ecological balance of Utt'khand'

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Dehra Dun, Jun 19 (UNI) The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has declared that increasing glacier melts due to climate change in Uttarakhand would have 'alarming' consequences on the livelihoods of the people and rupture the fragile ecological balance of the state in the coming decades, if left unchecked.

Exerpts of the report, presented by Tata Energy Research Institute (TERI) Director and IPCC Chairman R K Pachauri at ICFRE here at the first Uttarakhand Sustainable Development Summit (USDS), concluded that mountainous regions such as Uttarakhand were the most vulnerable to climate change and assessed the role of humanity in tackling the problem.

Pointing out that glaciers of the state, such as the 30.2 km long Gangotri, had been receding at an average rate of 7.3 m every year, the IPCC in its fourth assessment report warned that the alarming trend could lead to many rivers becoming seasonal rivers in the future. This would affect over three-fourths of the total population which is dependent on agriculture for its livelihood.

''There is a great deal of work which needs to be done and I am excited at the challenge,'' Dr Pachauri said, adding, ''The Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC has concluded that climate change is taking place and human actions are clearly leading the change.'' He said sustainable development strategies-- greater focus on rainwater harvesting and revival of traditional water harvesting systems --were required to meet the productive and consumptive demand for water in the state, which was already grappling with the problem of providing continous drinking water to its population.

Futhermore, the high rate of soil erosion was expected to increase with climate change, leaving farmers with bare or lack of land to cultivate agricultural produce which would affect the diet of hundreds of thousands of people.

He concluded that there was a need to sensitise the masses on the impacts of climate change. ''People living under the scourge of poverty must first be lifted so that they have the resources to adapt to the effects of climatic change,'' Dr Pachauri said. ''Efficient warning systems and proper infrastructure base in the state as well as empowering the poor on ways to conserve the environment are some of the first steps to combact the problem,'' the IPCC Chairman added.

The two-day summit brings together local government agencies, multilaterals, corporate houses and researchers to find the way forward for the sustainable development of the state.

UNI PB SW KN1958

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