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08 OCTOBER, 2017 (MAINS)


Q1. Recently, Nepal successfully drained a part of a glacial lake near Mount Everest, and hence averted the risk of disastrous floods. What are the causes and consequences of shrinking Himalayan glaciers lying near human settlements and river drainage systems?


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  • Osho Korde

    Scientists say climate change is causing Himalayan glaciers to melt at an alarming rate, creating huge glacial lakes which could burst their banks and devastate mountain communities.

    Imja Tsho, located at an altitude of 5,010 metres (16,437 feet), just 10 kilometres (6.2 miles) south of the world’s highest peak, is the fastest-growing glacial lake in Nepal.

    The Nepal government worked together with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to drain the lake.

    The surface area covered by the lake expanded from 0.4 to 1.01 square kilometres between 1984 and 2009, triggering concerns that it may breach its banks and flood villages downstream.

    Experts say that a flood would have a catastrophic impact on the lives of more than 50,000 people living in nearby villages and even in southern districts of the country.
    As part of the project, early warning systems have also been installed in villages downstream.
    Nepal is home to some 3,000 glacial lakes.

    A study published by the Kathmandu-based International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development used satellite imagery to show how Nepal’s glaciers had already shrunk by nearly a quarter between 1977 and 2010.