11 min read.Updated: 14 Feb 2019, 11:49 AM ISTBibek Bhattacharya
Nearly a third of the Himalayan glaciers could vanish by 2100. What does it mean for 300 million Indians who rely on it for water?
New Delhi: Rinchen Namgail, 27, is a sepoy in the Ladakh Scouts regiment of the Indian Army. On a short winter leave in the middle of January, he’s back at his home in Ulley village, situated at about 4,200m in a steep valley in the Ladakh Range. He looks out over at the snow-covered upper reaches of the valley and points at a series of canals zig-zagging down from the head of the valley down to its lower reaches. “These are what we use for water through the year, for irrigation and for drinking," he says. Dependent upon winter snowfall and glacial run-off, such canals form the traditional backbone of the Ladakhi way of life. Namgail’s only worry, as he squints in the dazzling midday sun, is that despite appearances, it has not been snowing too much. “We need really good winter snowfall for enough water through the year," he says. “But every year, it has been snowing less and less."