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Siachen becomes a battleground for India and Paksitan

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At an elevation of over 5,000 metres and at temperature that can dip to minus-50 degrees Celsius, Siachen, the world’s highest battlefield, is a tough terrain. It is also one of the largest fresh water reserves in the Indian subcontinent.

India and Pakistan, the two sparring nuclear-armed nations, have deployed their troops in large number in an area which is facing clear signs of an impact from climate change, adding to the looming threat of a water crisis.

The conflict between India and Pakistan, historically, has been over land, both claiming the Kashmir valley.

Water woes are a part of the picture.

The Indus Water Treaty signed in 1960 by Jawaharlal Nehru and Ayub Khan had its premise in the fear that India could potentially create droughts and famines in Pakistan, especially at times of war, as the Indus, the river that brings life to most of Pakistan, flows out from India.

The melt water of Saichen glacier is the main source of the Nubra river, which drains into the Shyok river. The Shyok then joins the 3,000 km-long Indus river which flows through Pakistan.

Both India and Pakistan had their claims on the glacier. In 1983, Pakistan decided to deploy troops on the glacier. India acted swiftly and launched Operation Meghdoot.

At present, India occupies most of the glacier, Pakistan being only on the western side of the Saltoro ridge. Both armies have been stationed here, losing more soldiers to climate than to bullets.

This year alone, India has lost 12 soldiers and one porter in Siachen.

In a reply in the Lok Sabha, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said India has lost 915 soldiers in Siachen in the last 33 years. The number on Pakistan’s side are similar.

While neither India nor Pakistan have admitted to the water angle of the dispute, Pakistan did accuse India of threatening the ecology of the glacier with its troop presence.

In 2013, a report of the Asian Development Bank declared Pakistan as one of the most “water-stressed” countries in the world.

In December that year, Sartaj Aziz, advisor to the Pakistan prime minister on foreign affairs, said Pakistan was facing a water shortage and Indian forces were damaging one of the largest sources of water to Pakistan on a regular basis.

He also accused Indian forces stationed in Siachen of posing a “serious threat” to Pakistan’s environment by damaging Siachen’s “virgin snow”.

India, with its strategic concerns, amplified after the 1999 Kargil conflict, has clearly stated that troops will not be withdrawn from the glacier.

Parrikar, following the death of 10 soldiers in an avalanche in Siachen earlier this year, said that he regretted the loss of life but ruled out removal of troops, stating that occupancy of the area by rival troops will lead to bigger loss of lives.

Climatologists and scientists however paint a grim picture when they talk about the shrinking of the glacier and rising temperatures, which they say has also led to more avalanches that are killing soldiers.

As per research data, including that from the defence ministry’s Snow and Avalanche Studies Establishment, frequency of avalanches has gone up with both maximum and minimum temperatures rising. However, this, along with sudden steep falls, causes more cracks and avalanches.

According a report by the World Wildlife Fund on Climate Data and Modelling Analysis of Indus Region, rising temperatures in Siachen have lead to a greater rate of thinning of ice and glacial retreat.

The decay estimates calculated by remote sensing techniques show that Siachen Glacier has reduced by 5.9 km in longitudinal extent from 1989 to 2009. Thinning of ice mass is evaluated at 17 percent.

The guns have been silent on the world’s highest battlefield since 2003 but nature is pretty active, creating a long-term threat to livelihood and well being of people in the region.(IANS)

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    I think again the solution to everything including Siachen problem lies in the independence of Baluchistan. Once Pakistan is disintegrated, Kashmir will become part of India and Siachen issue will be solved forever.

  • a

    I think again the solution to everything including Siachen problem lies in the independence of Baluchistan. Once Pakistan is disintegrated, Kashmir will become part of India and Siachen issue will be solved forever.

Next Story

Microsoft Surface Pro Now Available In India

There is a full-size glass trackpad with five-finger multi-touch capabilities that allows for ultimate precision and the keyboard is wrapped in soft Alcantara material

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Global chip-maker Qualcomm Technologies and Microsoft have collaborated with leading retailers from across the world to offer new "always connected" Windows 10 PCs powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon Mobile PC Platform. Wikimedia Commons
  • Microsoft released its Surface Pro in India
  • It is a high-resolution tablet with 12.3-inch touch-display
  • Customers can buy the Surface Pro from a number of retailers in India

Microsoft on Thursday announced its Surface Pro notebook and accessories are available in India. Surface Pro features a high-resolution 12.3-inch “PixelSense” touch display that supports the new Surface Pen 4.

The first generation, 2-in-1 detachable of the Microsoft Surface series — with a configuration of Intel Core m3, 128 GB SSD, 4GB RAM and Intel HD Graphics 615 — will cost Rs 64,999.

Microsoft introduces its Surface Pro Indian markets. Wikimedia Commons
Microsoft introduces its Surface Pro Indian markets. Wikimedia Commons

Customers can buy the device through more than 130 commercial resellers, the company said in a statement.

“We are delighted to announce the launch of Surface Pro in India and offer our consumers another superior device that will enable them create, study, work and play virtually anywhere,” said Vineet Durani, Director, Windows and Devices, Microsoft India.

Also Read: Microsoft Announces Indian Languages Support For e-mail Addresses

With a new hinge that adjusts to 165 degrees, users can now put the device into “Studio Mode”, thus, creating the optimal position to write or sketch.

It also has a tilt functionality that detects the angle of the Surface Pen to enable more natural shading.

At 8.5-mm thickness and weighing 767 grams, the notebook packs the in 7th-generation Intel Core processor with a fanless design.

Surface Pro has a battery life of 13.5 hours. Wikimedia Commons
Surface Pro has a battery life of 13.5 hours. Wikimedia Commons

 

Its battery supports up to 13.5 hours of life.

There is a full-size glass trackpad with five-finger multi-touch capabilities that allows for ultimate precision and the keyboard is wrapped in soft Alcantara material. IANS