Nainital: Raging forest fires in Uttarakhand could have a catastrophic effect on the state's glaciers which are the lifeline of the major rivers flowing through India's northern plains, believe many environmentalists.
According to a ToI report, which quoted several experts, 'black carbon' from smog and ash is covering the glaciers, thereby making them prone to melting.
The report quoted several eminent environmentalists associated with Nainital's Aryabhatta Research Institute for Observational Sciences (ARIES) and Govind Ballabh Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development (GBPIHED) in Almora.
Manish Kumar, a senior scientist at the atmospherics department in ARIES, was quoted as saying "Black carbon is formed by the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, biofuels and biomass. It absorbs light and increases heat, which is why it can cause glaciers to melt faster."
Water in the rivers which originate from these glaciers also stand to get heavily polluted by harmful particles and compounds that constitute black carbon, Kumar said.
According to experts, forest fires have already resulted in a jump of 0.2 degrees Celsius in temperatures across northern India which can have a detrimental effect on the monsoons.
"Black carbon floats in air for a long time and gets deposited on clouds interfering with the normal cycle of the monsoons," said Kirit Kumar, a scientist from Govind Ballabh Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development, Almora.
Other experts, however, said the interaction of black carbon with clouds was complex and could have varied effects.
Meanwhile, Minister of State for Environment, Forests and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar, yesterday that the fire which destroyed around 2,000 hectares of forest land in Uttarakhand would be put out in the next two days.
Several incidents of forest fire have been reported in the state in the last few weeks. Thousands of firemen have been battling for days to douse the fire.
Teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and the Indian Air Force (IAF) have also been deployed to assist the firemen.
Javadekar said that the federal and state government was working together to solve the problem.
Northern India is reeling under severe heat with temperatures rising upto 48 degree Celsius in many parts.