Hinting at the possibility of China “weaponising” weather modification for strategic gains, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Thursday that “climate change in the country is not just a weather-related phenomenon, but the matter is related to national security.” The Defence Minister said his department has “taken it seriously.”

Speaking at an event to inaugurate 35 infrastructure projects of the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) in Uttarakhand, Rajnath Singh did not name China but wondered why certain border States such as Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, and Sikkim, and Union Territories like Ladakh, are increasingly getting hit by natural disasters.

Increase in Natural disaters

“Certain border States like Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim, and Union Territories like Ladakh have noticed an increase in the number of natural disasters in recent years. The Himalayas extend to other States as well, but such incidents are confined to certain States only, and we cannot ignore that. Many experts believe that these natural disasters are an outcome of climate change. Climate change in the country is not just a weather-related phenomenon; the matter is related to national security. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has taken it very seriously and will seek help from friendly countries to study and rule out any involvement of any enemy country on this issue,” he said.

The National Security Council Secretariat has reportedly taken up weather weaponisation and its “potential exploitation by inimical forces” project to study China’s strategic capacity. MoD officials privy to developments told businessline that they are monitoring China’s “geo-engineering vision” initiative to shape the weather.

Beijing’s activity

China has opened the “Beijing Weather Modification Office (BWMO),” with about 37,000 employees to exploit space conditions for a variety of purposes that can be stretched for strategic implications such as triggering flash floods through cloud seeding to depopulate a region across the border.

Besides that, it will have the potential to disturb agriculture and accompanying habitat and environment for China’s advantage, Ministry sources elaborated. The BWMO is a division of the long-established China Meteorological Association Weather Modification Centre.

One of the research and development projects China took up recently was “The River in the Sky,” which captures moisture from the atmosphere and shifts it to a geography for a desired outcome. “When we study China, we realise why they are doing this. Knowing them, we cannot rule out apprehension of its use in the future,” government sources said.

In India, the total strength of the India Metrological Department (IMD) employees is about 6,000, out of which only 300 are scientists tasked to handle different departments like climatology, hydrometeorology, seismology, and cyclone forecast, said a government officer to draw a comparison with the huge human resource investment China has done in this specialised environment department.

A senior government advisor dealing with the subject agreed that weather modification could be weaponised but insisted that more evidence is needed to conclude that floods in states like Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh since 2013 were due to man-made factors. The key to it is that we have intruded heavily into the river and water body spaces, he commented.

China had demonstrated this capability of seeding during the Winter Olympics, 2022, to disperse storms, unleash rains and engineer a blue sky.