Sikkim glacial lakes

Gangtok: Sikkim CM Prem Singh Golay requested the deployment of Early Warning System and hydrodynamic modelling for floods using space-based technology in two potentially vulnerable glacial lakes in Sikkim during the North Eastern Space Application Centre (NESAC) meeting.

The meeting was chaired by Home Minister Amit Shah along with Minster DoNER G Kishan Reddy at NESAC headquarters in Umiam, Shillong on Saturday.

Sikkim CM Golay highlighted how around 14 potentially vulnerable glacial lakes in Sikkim Himalaya have been identified, continuously expanding in their size and volume due to the melting of glaciers. “The expanding glacial lakes have posed a serious threat of Glacial Lake outburst flood. Therefore, to avoid and minimise the risks to hydropower, human settlements, defence establishments, etc. Identifying sites for the construction of check dams is the state’s priority,” he said.

Eastern Himalayas being a young mountain system and prone to frequent landslides, adding that it also falls under the seismic zone 04, which poses a constant threat. But of late, climate change has been a bigger concern in the region. Speaking about climate change, Golay said, “The impact of climate change is becoming evident in the Sikkim Himalayan region, and the effects are visible”. He elaborated that this has manifested in extreme rainfall resulting in a large volume of water received in a short duration of time. Further, he added, “These abnormal rainfall events generate high-velocity storm-flow downstream, creating massive soil erosion in gullies and river banks, risking the life and property of the people”.

The Chief Minister emphasised the need for an urgent plan for minimising soil erosion and its consequences over the slopes of the Sikkim Himalaya. “Remote Sensing and GIS applications are significant in the decision-making process and long-term planning of natural resources management. Minimising soil erosion and floods during extreme events by identifying the vulnerable gullies and points in river banks for engineering interventions. Tentatively, 35 such vulnerable areas have been identified for detailed analysis using space technology for protection and restoration measures,” he said.

The Chief Minister also highlighted the need for interlinking water surplus with deficit areas for water security and identifying the shortest distance for interlinking etc..The identification of dried-up lakes for their rejuvenation and development of water storage by linking with the water surplus area.

Mapping and Monitoring of forest cover dynamics and human-wildlife conflict using Remote Sensing and Geographical Information System.

Geo-tagging and Monitoring of projects funded by the Government in Sikkim using Geospatial Technology and Tools.

Identification of agriculture fallow land for the establishment of community organic farming centres in Sikkim.

Developing a Medical Emergency mobile application for telemedicine support in linkage with nearest Health centre, District Hospital as well as State Hospital.

Chief Minister informed that NESAC under the Department of Space, Government of India, Shillong has identified different areas for the application of space technology in Sikkim.

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