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Menopausal Mother Nature

News about Climate Change and our Planet


Writing on the wall: Himachal govt report warned of rise in cloudbursts, landslides in 2012

Rainy days in Himachal would go up by 5-10 days by 2030, the report by Himachal government had warned

A 2012 state govt report had warned of rise in cloudbursts, landslides in Himachal Pradesh. Representative photo: Wikimedia Commons A 2012 state govt report had warned of rise in cloudbursts, landslides in Himachal Pradesh. Representative photo: Wikimedia Commons

Climate change compounded with the fragile ecology of Himachal Pradesh has pushed up the incidences of cloudbursts, hill cracks and landslides in the state.

The state has experienced four major natural disasters in the last month. As many as 202 people have died in over 90 days.

But the writing had been on the wall since 2012: The environment department of Himachal Pradesh government, in its State Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan, had warned that floods, landslides, glacial lake bursts, excess rainfall, excess snowfall and unseasonal rains would increase if the effects of climate change were not mitigated.

It had said the state could experience a difference of 1-5 degrees Celsius in minimum temperature and 0.5-2.5 degrees Celsius in maximum temperature by 2030.

It claimed that rainy days in Himachal would go up by 5-10 days by 2030. They could increase by 15 in the northwest region of Himachal.

At least 30 people have died in Chamba, Kangra, Kinnaur, and Lahaul-Spiti districts, where cloudbursts, landslides and floods have recently occurred. The state strategy plan had warned about heavy rains, landslides and natural disasters in these districts back in 2012.

The high-altitude areas of Kinnaur, Lahaul-Spiti, Chamba and Kullu, which usually receive heavy snowfall are now seeing more rain, according to the document.

Most houses in Lahaul-Spiti district, also known as the cold desert, are made of mud. According to Vikram Katoch, a resident: “Our drains have been flooded. This has never happened before. Avalanches have become more common as a result of changing weather patterns.”

The Asian Development Bank report on Climate Change Adoption in Himachal Pradesh had analysed temperature and rainfall data at Himachal Pradesh Agricultural University from 1976 to 2006. It found that rainfall in Lahaul-Spiti, Kangra and Chamba increased; it decreased in Solan and Kinnaur.

According to the report, Himachal’s geographical conditions can exacerbate the effects of natural disasters. The state’s infrastructure should employ cutting-edge engineering to curb them. 

It claimed that 23,000 hectares of land in Himachal were subject to flooding, and preparations should be made ahead of time to deal with it to minimise the loss.

As much as 40 per cent of Himachal’s land is ‘highly sensitive’, according to a report by the Building Materials and Technology Promotion Council.

Tikendra Panwar, research fellow, Impact and Policy Research Institute, said: “Many hydropower projects and National Highway projects are currently underway in Himachal Pradesh. While digging in, neither the hydrologist nor geologist’s opinions are taken into account. Landslides are becoming increasingly common.”

He alleged that Himachal’s policy implementation is riddled with flaws.

The 2012 state action plan suggested ways to improve sustainable agriculture, water resources, forest and biodiversity, health and tourism, urban development and energy.

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