Impact of Climate Change on the Hills

Land Naked of Snow and Farm

Freestyle

February 3, 2016

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Land Naked of Snow

Land Naked of Snow

Enroute Chandrashila peak at 4000 metres in Tungnath region of Uttarakhand, the villages still await to receive the first snowfall in the middle of January. Additionally, the reduced rainfall once again impacted agricultural output, thanks to climate change.

“We are in the middle of January and it has not snowed yet,” says Bhoopendra Singh Rana, a school teacher in the Ukhimath Village in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand. Located at an elevation of 1,317 metres, the village has almost 250-300 households that are dependent on agriculture and other labour work, while a fair bit of population has migrated to surrounding towns such as Dehradun for sustenance. Under adverse circumstances such as hassled connectivity, unavailability of resources and the harsh life that the hills pose, a traveller may wonder if the delayed snowfall is in fact in the favour of the villagers. But Rana is quick to dissuade, “A delayed snowfall means imbalance in nature. We are aware about the balance that mountains and the oceans provide, we care more about that than the irregularities that snowfall brings to our lives, which we are accustomed to now.”

The awareness and energy act as a booster for a tired trekker. Such insights can even be a source of inspiration at international climate events such as the COP21, held in Paris recently where the developed and developing countries had differences over climate justice and carbon footprints. Intriguingly, the temperature in central Himalayas increased by nearly 0.6 degree Celsius between 1977 and 2000. This increase in temperature naturally has resulted into melting of glaciers along with impacting the rainfall and the monsoon season in the Indian Himalayan states such as Uttarakhand.

As one walks along the mountain trails and crosses villages, one hears the stories of the subdued farm produce that the shortened rainfall resulted in. One may even notice a touch of dried bushes amidst the superficial greenery from afar. The grass seems greener on the other side until you walk on it. In another village called Sari, Rajpal Singh Bhatt, a local retailer, says that the farm produce has been majorly affected in the village where the primary source of revenue is farming. The village that has nearly 1200-1300 populace and is usually self-sufficient for food, was forced to import from the neighbouring towns. Pointing at the small and scattered mustard or wheat or mandua farms of the winter mountains, Bhatt says “normally they would be good enough to be harvested.”

Enroute Chandrashila peak at 4000 metres, these villages lay naked as opposed to even a trace of snow, like a trekker would expect during this time of the year. Only from a distant one can spot the permanent snow covered peaks for contentment.

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