Disaster in making

Nepal has not been spared of the ill effects of global warming. The case in point are the 20 glacial lakes in the Himalayas which are prone to bursting, 12 in the Khumbu region of Solukhumbu district. Of the dozen, Imja, the fastest-growing

lake, is a looming risk to the entire region. First spotted as a group of small snow masses, Imja is now a square-kilometre in area, and growing at a disturbing rate of 74 metres a year.

As the mercury climbs, the mountain lakes fed by the fast-melting snow from the Himalayas continue to swell. The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) monitors the growth of the lake through remote sensing (with the help of a pair of video cameras installed by the lake). The technology, it is hoped, will be enough to alert the locals to vacate the area on time in the likelihood of an outburst. The World Wide Fund (WWF) has two weather stations in the area to record weather fluctuations. But there is next to no scientific database for accurate prediction. Considering the huge stakes involved, spending a little more on scientific studies of glaciers in the Himalayas will be well worth it. Nepal should also put forward a strong case of the urgent need to curb global warming at international forums like UN and SAARC. This is one problem that has nothing to do with political expedience.