The Ministry of Earth Sciences recently revealed in Parliament that the “geology of many locations in the Himalayan region are unstable and dynamic.” It warned that subsidence of the Joshimath kind could happen in many other places as well.

The Ministry noted that environment clearance is mandatory before any major construction work is taken up. Projects on the Himalayas have been the subject of much controversy in recent times.

According to a recent multi-institutional study in addition to tectonic and non-tectonic forces, unsustainable consumption of groundwater has influenced the subsidence rate. Wanton construction, denuding of forests and climate change has compounded the problem.

Building density in the land subsidence affected area in Joshimath,

Building density in the land subsidence affected area in Joshimath, | Photo Credit: -

A fragile Himalayas not only puts the ecology and human lives at risk but will also have a telling impact on 163 endangered species as well as 10,000 plant species of which 3,160 are endemic to the region.

One of the key findings of the “Hindu Kush Himalaya Assessment” study is that even if global warming is kept to 1.5 degrees Celsius, it will be at least 0.3 to 0.7 degrees higher in various sections of the mountain range.

Such large warming could trigger a multitude of biophysical and socio- economic impact such as biodiversity loss, increased glacial melting, and less predictable water availability.

Experts maintain that preserving and protecting the Himalayas should be accorded top priority for the well-being of humans as well as the flora and fauna.