The spectre of climate change in Kashmir

August 20, 2009

Its striking beauty is not the only thing that hits you when you visit Kashmir valley.

Though it was the kind of paradise I had imagined, I didn’t know there would be so many shanty towns set in such picturesque locales.

As I travelled through Kashmir, the breathtaking views did make me breathless but so did the smoke and dust. 

An article by Shakil Ahmad Romshoo, Associate Professor with Kashmir University, says the valley has been experiencing erratic snowfall and hotter summers for the last decade or so.

A report on ‘Climate Change in Kashmir’ by ActionAid, an international anti-poverty agency, says the Pampore-Khrew belt, famous for its saffron production, has been witnessing an unusual phenomenon over the last two decades — receiving the least snowfall in Kashmir.

The report also said locals attributed this phenomenon to industrial units which have come up in the area since 1982.

Locals from the Valley say that it’s unusually hot this year.

Many believe it is the wrath of God for the evils in society. Special prayers are being offered in mosques to deal with the changing phenomena.

The ActionAid report says, “Temperature on an average in Kashmir region has shown a rise of 1.45 Celsius while in Jammu region the rise is 2.32 Celsius. The Indian Meteorological Department’s monitoring reveals that temperatures are increasing in both Jammu and Kashmir valley, with significant increase in maximum temperature of 0.05 degrees Celsius per year.”

Romshoo says there are a number of indicators of climate change discernible in the Kashmir valley.

“Glaciers are receding, scanty and erratic snow fall, change of growing season, shifting of vegetation from lower to higher altitudes, shrinking/loss of wetlands, etc,” he said.

“Mountainous regions are generally more susceptible to the climate change impacts and climate change is going to affect every aspect of the environment, social and economics systems.”

Enviroment Minister Jairam Ramesh says there is no conclusive scientific evidence that climate change is causing glaciers to recede.

Ramesh says some glaciers like the Siachen are advancing and there needs to be more study done on this subject.

Though climate change is caused by natural influences as well, Romshoo attributes it to more use of fossil fuels, burning of forests, reckless industrialization and anti-environmental lifestyles.

The ActionAid report also mentions the movement of heavy military vehicles as one of the reasons for excess pollution in the Valley.

It says convoys and heavy military vehicles produce a high level of greenhouse gases and are out of the purview of the law enforcing agencies in pollution control.

Can the government do something about the reduction of greenhouse gases in the Valley? Will education and awareness among locals and tourists help slow climate change?

5 comments

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

This is all thanks to global warming! Kashmir is such a beautiful place, it’s a shame to see it in its current state thanks to people who place their luxurious lifestyle over the beauty of the place..

Posted by Saanya | Report as abusive

I do appreciate Govt’s stand on cleaning Dal Lake, but definitely, climate remains a major issue that both Central and State govt need to work upon. It seems as if in our country we are not keen on preserving our heritage..beautiful places, etc. I wonder why..

We need to learn from other nations in Europe / US where a keen effort has been put in to preserve National Heritages and not only civil administration but also locals take pride in doing so.

A long way to go..

Posted by Viga | Report as abusive

Its good piece. The author has shown her concern in a sympathetic way. I wish govt and all those concerned to save this paradise on earth should wake up. Reports and articles wont work, action is needed on ground.

Posted by PM | Report as abusive

@ PM, i think all those concerned are the people of valley as well. Action is also needed by the locals to preserve and save their homeland.

Posted by Raashi Bhatia | Report as abusive

It is pity that… here the term \”what you sow you reap\” does not apply. Over last 40 to 50 years western countries (US and European) have done so much damage to this atmosphere, by their industrial use of natural resources. And still they are least affected by the current climate changes.
The countries which were traditionally highly dependent on their habitat are affected. These are not industrialized, so they do not contribute to the CO2 rise, their areas are affected by large extent.
Such a small world.
I do not want to blame western countries solely, the developing countries like India, China etc, are also following same path. But the per capita Carbon release in western countries in too large compared to developing countries. Now the time has come, the people who started it, should take the initiative to curb their carbon emissions, instead of blaming developing countries.

Posted by Pravin Rajeshirke | Report as abusive