Nestled in the Himalayas, Ladakh (the land of high passes) is fighting a dual battle, water crisis, and climate change. This mountainous region, known for its glaciers and cold high-altitude landscape, is running dry. Ladakh’s fragility is taking its toll on the common people.
The Policy Times, writer gives an insight into the problem.
Bharatiya Janata Party Member of Parliament, Thupstan Chhewang said the people are experiencing water scarcity. “Though the months of July and August have brought relief, it will not last long.” He said global warming had negatively impacted Ladakh.
“The changes in climate in the region have severely affected the use and management of natural resources. Dry bole holes and tube wells, and decreasing groundwater is a worry. The livelihoods of the local people have been affected.”
Various studies reveal that “fewer snowfall results in a slower recharge of groundwater and springs, and a quicker drying up of scare water resources even if population and per capita consumption pressures remain stable.”
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Mr. Thupstan said late and little to no rainfall and irregular snowfall had resulted in the water crisis. “This is an acute problem. The farmers gave up their crops are it was dependent on irrigation, and there is no water for irrigation. There was rain in the month of July but too late for the crops. Somehow the people are trying to manage.”
If the problem is not addressed immediately, the people will have no choice but to move to areas where there is water. Moreover, the tourism economy will also be affected.
The government should take notice of the problem because scientific data and research show that glaciers such as Siachen, Khardong, and Stok which are all in Ladakh, have either receded or almost disappeared in about a decade.
It is a fact that Ladakh has a climatically challenging environment. The region needs a constructive policy to address the problem. The government should consult the people of Ladakh and various organizations to come up with solutions.
In recent years, the people of Ladakh have been experiencing loss of livelihood, increasing scarcity of lifeline resources such as clean water for drinking and cooking. If nothing is done, there will be a mass migration of people to areas and regions where there is water.