Avalanches in just 72 hours have killed 15 soldiers and at least six others in Kashmir valley. Concerned about the deaths of the soldiers, Army Chief General Bipin Rawat addressed the media.
He expressed concern over the rising incidents of avalanches triggering in the heights of the snow-capped mountains in Kashmir.
General Rawat blamed two things for the avalanches: global warming and Pakistani shelling.
“Due to global warming, glaciers are witnessing cracks. There are avalanches in areas which had not reported such cases earlier. There has been a lot of ceasefire violations and heavy weapons too are being used. Many times it affects the soil and loosens it up. When there is a heavy snowfall on such a loose soil and if there is a slope, it triggers danger of an avalanche.”
Both the reasons are indeed worrisome for the armed forces. Of them, the concern about global warming impacting the ecology of the region is crucial.
Melting or formation of snow in the most unexpected places can play havoc with troop movements, which are planned based on the intensity of infiltration from an area.
The manner in which climate change is impacting national security and claiming the lives of brave soldiers is evident from the General’s words.
NASA reported that the first six months of 2016 have been the warmest on record.
Why aren’t the soldiers being moved away?
The General said that though the army withdraws troops from avalanche-prone areas, some posts cannot be deserted because of the risk of infiltration.
Praising the troops for risking their lives at such places for duty, General Rawat said: “Our soldiers are facing it (the danger). Their task is counter-infiltration and despite the hardships they are doing their duty. I wish to assure you (the soldiers). You have been doing your duty with dedication (but) we have to deal with infiltration.”
The bodies of some of the soldiers are yet to be recovered because inclement weather is making rescue missions very difficult. The General requested the families of all the soldiers how died in the avalanches to bear with the forces till the time.
Though the Army is working with the DRDO to map avalanche-prone areas, climate change is something that is a global phenomenon.