PSC recommends Apex Body for Glacier Management

PSC recommends Apex Body for Glacier Management

News: Recently, A Parliamentary Standing Committee in India has recommended the establishment of an overarching apex body for glacier management in the country.

What are Glaciers?
 Glaciers are massive bodies of slowly moving ice. Glaciers form on land, and they are made up of fallen snow that gets compressed into ice over many centuries. They move slowly downward from the pull of gravity.

Status of Glaciers:
 Glaciers cover nearly 3% of Earth’s surface and 11% of Earth’s land area
 They are source of three large river systems - Indus, Ganges, Brahmaputra
 Hindu Kush Himalayan Region is known as the “Water Towers of Asia“
 Himalayan mountains are referred to as the third pole
 India has over 16000 glaciers

Threats faced by Glaciers in India:
 The majority of Himalayan glaciers are melting or retreating, which will severely affect flow in Himalayan River systems
 Melting glaciers can cause disasters like Glacier Lake Outburst Floods (GLOF), glacier avalanches, etc.
 Melting of glaciers may lead to the shift of tree lines in the Himalayas and may also cause a change in the phonological behaviour of plants.
 Lack of data sharing on hydrological information with neighboring countries
 Multiple ministries/departments/institutions with different mandates for dealing with Himalayan glaciers

Key Recommendations:
 Set up a single nodal agency for bringing out synergies among various government departments/ministries involved in glaciological research and monitoring
 Establish regional cooperation for the seamless sharing of hydrological information/data on glacier movement/behaviour
 Create a multi-hazard alert and warning system
 Increase involvement of Himalayan states, planners, scientists, and academicians in devising suitable measures for glacier management

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