Speakers call for demilitarisation of Siachen Glacier
* Experts count various reasons behind melting of glaciers
* Call for preservation of Siachen Glacier by turning it into peace park
ISLAMABAD: Calling for complete of demilitarisation of Siachen Glacier, speakers at a colloquium have argued that Siachen Glacier is fast melting due to heavy military presence and activities, beside global warming and black carbon emission as other contributing factors.
Experts participating in a seminar on ‘Climate Change and Siachen Glacier: A Global Challenge’ organised by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) on Monday, said Pakistan is spending around $1 million daily while India’s daily expenditure to keep its hold over the glacier is double than Pakistan. If both the countries leave Siachen and choose to withdraw their positions of 1984, they can save over $10 billion, which could be utilised for uplifting education, health and standard of life of their masses.
They called for preservation of the glacier by turning into a peace park for good bilateral relations and to focus on more vital issues of addressing chronic poverty and under development in South Asia.
Chairing the session, Climate Affairs Adviser Dr Qamaruz Zaman Chaudhry deliberated on climate change impacts on glaciers, and said scientific studies revealed that eastern glaciers were melting more rapidly than glaciers in western regions. He said average temperature in the Northern Areas has increased by 0.76 Celsius with increase in frequency of heat waves that had adversely affected the environment in the region.
He said, Siachen Glacier was under stress from factors such as global warming, black carbon and military activities. He said that trans-boundary pollution had resulted into heavy deposits of carbon on glaciated ice, triggering the temperature to rise, due to more absorption of solar radiation.
Arshad H Abbasi, an SDPI official and glaciers expert, said that rise in temperature at Siachen Glacier was the direct result of military interventions at a large scale, and cited as example forces used of chemicals to melt and cut through the age-old glacial ice to construct bunkers, camps, helipads and airfields. He rejected the notion that global warming is melting Siachen Glacier and cited NASA report titled ‘Advancing Glaciers and Positive Mass Anomaly in the Karakoram Himalaya’ which states that more than 65 percent of glaciers in the Karakoram are growing. Therefore, if adjoining glaciers are gaining further mass, then it is a case of direct human interference that is melting Siachen,” he added.
He said recent tragedy in Gayari sector was caused by ‘glacier surge’. He elaborated that rising temperature melted the base of the glacier, reducing the frictional resistance and transferred large volumes of ice on the Pakistan Army camp. Shakeel Ahmad Ramay, senior research associate at SDPI concluded that prevalence of black carbon content was one of the major reasons behind Siachen Glacier’s rapid melting. He said presence of Pak-India militaries and their different activities involve heavy omissions of black carbon, which had strong correlation with the depleting glaciers, including occurrences of incidents such as Gayari.
During the question-answer session, the participants raised questions related to scientists’ access to Siachen Glacier and its related information for research purposes, role of India-Pakistan militaries in limited access of scientists to glaciers and related information, melting of the glacier and occurrences of heavy floods in 2010 and 2011, changing patterns of monsoon and prospects of survival of victims of Gayari incident.