The IUP Journal of Law Review
Himalayan Glacial Retreat: Need for Protective Legislation in India

Article Details
Pub. Date : July, 2020
Product Name : The IUP Journal of Law Review
Product Type : Article
Product Code : IJLR072020
Author Name : Rama Devi Gudemela
Availability : YES
Subject/Domain : Arts & Humanities
Download Format : PDF Format
No. of Pages : 07



Himalayan glaciers are one of our most precious resources that have sustained civilizations for thousands of years. They hold economic value in terms of agriculture, industrial, energy, tourism and scientific development. Glaciers are crucial buffers thereby releasing the water into the rivers during droughts and summer season. However, the major global concern in today’s time is the melting glaciers. As the glaciers shrink, they have long-lasting effect on water supply which can halt the agriculture, industrial, energy, tourism and scientific development of regions within the nations. The paper addresses the primary issues for this glacial retreat which cannot be only attributed to climate change but also the anthropogenic activities carried out on glaciers. These activities need to be regulated through Indian and international protective legislations. The paper comprehensively analyzes the existing domestic and international legislations and their applications to protect the glaciers retreat thereby finally concluding with suggestions.


Glaciers are the largest reservoir of fresh water and the earth’s most viable resources which need to be protected as they create a water source which is important for plants, animals and humans when other sources of fresh water may be scant. Himalayan glaciers are broadly divided into three river basins, viz., Indus, Ganga and Brahmaputra. They are the important source of fresh water for northern Indian rivers and water reservoirs. The river systems receive almost 30-50% of the annual flow from snow and glacier melt run off.1

One of the detrimental consequences of global climate change is glacial retreat. As the glaciers melt away, their ability to be water towers also diminishes. Glacial ice protects against extreme water shortages on seasonal and longer timescales, since the glacial melt supply can be sustained through droughts, while all other riverbasin water inputs and stores decline. They act as a buffer against droughts. This retreat hampers the ecological balance of major river systems in India and also its neighboring countries. Perennial rivers could be changed into seasonal streams giving rise to freshwater scarcity in the summer months, since melted water contributes the


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