The flash floods in Uttarakhand underline the risk. One of India’s leading glaciologists discusses ways to assess and minimise this. Sunday’s flash floods in Uttarakhand underline the risk. One of India’s leading glaciologists discusses ways to assess and minimise this. 

What could be behind the disaster in Uttarakhand?

But isn’t an avalanche unusual at this time of the year?

How big is the threat of such incidents continuing?

So why is this not happening?

What about the mission on Himalayan Ecosystem set up under the National Action Plan on Climate Change, and the plan to set up a National Centre for Himalayan Glaciology?

What are these operational matters?

Again, it is a question of sustainable management. When a DPR (detailed project report) for any project is done, several studies are carried out — environmental assessment, river flow, pollution, forests. But glaciology is not part of these DPRs. Overall environmental assessment must also take into account the frequency of landslides and snow avalanches, the possibility of lake formation upstream, the ice volume in the glaciers, whether the glaciers are retreating or advancing, and the rate at which these changes are happening. Ultimately, if a disaster strikes, it will impact not just the projects themselves, but also the people.