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Indian Himalayas (An Integrated View)

Indian Himalayas (An Integrated View)
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Item Code: NAK655
Author: Jagdish Bahadur
Publisher: Vigyan Prasar
Language: English
Edition: 2003
ISBN: 8174800913
Pages: 306 (97 Color Illustrations)
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details: 9.5 inch x 6.5 inch
weight of the book: 600 gms

About the Book

The book is basically meant to emphasize the adoption of an integrated approach for the study and development of Himalayan agro ecosystems, pointing out the role of apex snow and glacier fields, for the first time, salient aspects of atmosphere, geosphere, hydrosphere, and biosphere are dealt with at one place to appreciate their interdependence especially in the context of Indian Himalayan region. It also incorporates the natural disasters and the monitoring and mitigation strategies. Outlining the socio economic aspects, emphasis is laid on resource monitoring, coordinated approach involving existing institution and infrastructural facilities and evolving policies to encourage people's involvement and participation. The promotional activities for eradication of poverty in the region should include the criteria globally evolved for sustainable development of the mountain peaks, places of pilgrimage, valleys, snows, glaciers, streams, lakes, biodiversity study, natural hazards, rejuvenation efforts and some socio-cultural aspects have been included.


About the Author

Dr. Jagdish Bahadur holds B.Sc and M.Sc (Physics) degrees from Agra and Lucknow University respectively in first division. After teaching physics to B.Sc. students for one year at Lucknow, he joined as a Research Officer (Physics) at Central Water and Power Research Station at Pune. In 196, he was awareded Ph.D. by the University of Pune. He joined Nuclear Research Laboratory in 1972 at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi, where he worked on efficient utilization of water for agricultural production. His academic interest took him from Glaciers to Deserts the two extreme environments. During 1978-81, he worked as a Consultant Hydrologist in Libya. In 1982 he joined the Department of Science & Technology and coordinated national programmes on testing and calibration facilities, arid zone research, Himalayan glaciology and agro meteorological advisory services at National Centre for Medium Range Weather forecasting adopting multidisci – plenary and inter Institutional cooperation. He was till recently, Project Coordinator at vigyan Prasar on the Project environmental hot spots in the country with emphasis on the sustainable development of Himalayan region under the USERS scheme of DST. He has published a large number of papers and is associated with several scientific and technical societies and institutions.



The Himalayas occupy a special status for our environment. It is our country's pride and a symbol of value system. The mountain system needs to be preserved, sustained and nurtured to keep up its grandeur. In general, the science and technology holds a key to socio-economic development and should be utilized to better the quality of life in fragile Himalayan region. There is need to have a well thought, integrated and coordinated approach involving various stakeholders for sustainable development of the region. The development of the region is intimately connected with the maintenance of the granary of Ind Gangetic plains the grain bowl of the country.

The Department of Science and Technology has supported the development of the region since its inception. It organized a national seminar on resource development and environment in the Himalayan region from 10-13 April, 1978 at Vigyan Bhavan under the guidance of distinguished agricultural scientist, Professor B.P.Pal, FRS. The Department has provided major support to nationally coordinated programme on Himalayan Seismo-tectonic since 1982; Himalayan glaciology since 1984; Conceptualization of a National Board for Mountain Research and Technology development following the Indian Science Congress in 1985 and Landslide project since 1989. It suppored a brain storming session on Himalayan Experiment (HIMEX) in 1995 IIT Delhi which recommended that the emphasis be paid to snow monitoring, mountain meteorology and establishment of bio-geodata bases for each district of the mountain region for sustainable development. During March 1999 another brain storming meeting on Bio-geodata Base and Ecological Modelling for Himalaya was sponsored at the India International Centre with them lectures on land use and sustainable development, Himalayan glacial system, geological fragility, eco-rehabilitation, soil resources, thematic mapping, natural resource accounting, remote sensing and hydrological modelling, followed by a workshop having discussions on climate and Himalaya, paleo biodiversity, weather systems and forecasting, natural resource management and integrated development for Himalaya. Another three day workshop was organized in April, 2000 on the role of science and technology in the integrated development of Uttaranchal at Almora. During March 13-15, 2002, an Indo-Central Asian Republics Glaciologist's workshop was organized at India International Centre for developing a joint collaborative programme in the field of glaciology for monitoring the role of snow and ice in Himalayas.

As development of Himalayan region is very difficult and complex, involving several departments, it is felt that a number of field observatories for regular monitoring of snow, weather, climate, water, suspended sediments, soil erosion and biodiversity need to be established so that uninterrupted field data is made available to help plan data based strategies for the changing environment and to deal with effects of climatic change. This will enable us to coordinate with the International Geosphere Biosphere programme (IGBP) and its Mountain Research Initiative (MRI) launched in July 2001 with the objectives to develop a strategy for detecting signals of global environmental change in mountain environments; to define the consequences of global environmental change for mountain regions as well as associated lowland systems; and to make proposals towards sustainable land, water and resource management at local to regional scales.

I am extremely happy that Dr. Jagdish Bahadur has Collected and collected scientific and technical information on various topics connected with the gigantic natural system which is normally beyond a common comprehension. His long innings, working, in the field of Geology, hydrology, glaciology, agriculture and meteorology has been his strong points enabling him to prepare the text of the present book on Indian Himalayas. I understand that in has taken more than six years of active work after his retirement from the services to plan and present the publication. I must congratulate him for his deep interest in Himalayas and the determined efforts to publish this book during this year being designated the International Mountain Year (JYM) by the United Nations. I hope that the book will encourage inter disciplinary studies to conserve biodiversity, improve agricultural productivity and save the Himalayan region from further desertification.



From my childhood, I was fascinated by Himalayas the storehouse of snow and ice and had a feeling that the floods in the Indo Gangetic plains are related with the mountain system. This conviction was further strengthened when government of India sponsored me to study the role of snow and ice during 1969 – 70 under a global postdoctoral fellowship from the Norwegian Agency for International Development Oslo. During the fellowship period, I had opportunities to interact with global scientific community from various disciplines and made a proposal for initiating applied snow and ice investigation in India.

During my scientific service period of over four decades, I received training in geology and geophysics, hydrology agriculture, environment, meteorology and science communication. The above experiences and my background in physics prompted me to explore and understand the role played by atmosphere, geosphere, hydrosphere and understand the role played by atmosphere, geosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere for the mega biodiversity of the Himalayan region. Pursuant to this mission, a suggestion was made in 1991 to organize a land atmospheric experimental campaign called 'Himalayan Experiment' (HIMEX) on the lines of Alpine Experiment (ALPEX) in Europe. This resulted in a three day brain storming seminar at the Centre for atmospheric Science (CAS) at IIT, Delhi in culminating in a volume on the Himalayan Environment. This volume consists of papers of various scientists for the advances made in the fields of snow cover studies, atmospheric studies, paleo-climatic and paleo-environmental studies, natural resource management and some concepts on Himalayan Experiment,. Recommendations were made to improve data based for the region.

The present published is the outcome to fulfil my long desire to compile, collate and document the scientific and technical information on various sub-topics connected with the Himalayan Ecosytems. Widely varied and disparate information, touching several scientific disciplines has been presented to help launch further investigation of the Himalayan region which has stamped our lives and culture since the dawn of human civilization.

Depending on my limited capacity and limitation of time, an attempt is made to draw material from the exploration reported by various investigators with a hope that some curious minds will indulge in further explorations, unravelling the secrets of the great mountain system which has provided a place of pride to all Indians and its neighbours and global curiosity to others.

The book is meant for those who are keen to know the intricacies of the Himalayan environment and its role in sustaining a huge population of men and animals. An appeal has been made for a nonstop arduous effort towards its regeneration by all concerned based on holistic approach, integrating various disciplines and sectoral activities to eradicate the poverty from the region.

The book writing project was sponsored by Vigyan Prasar and funded under 'Utilization of Expertise of Retired Scientists (USERs) by the Department of Science & Technology, Government of India. I shall feel gratified if the publication opens new horizons and vistas, giving some useful information to its readers during the International Year of Mountains (IYM).




  List of Figures x
  List of Tables xi
  List of Plates xiv
  Foreword xvii
  Foreword xvii
  Foreword xix
  Preface xx
  Acknowledgements xxii
  Prologue xxv
1 Introduction 1
2 Indian Himalayas and Its Agro Ecosystems 11
  Indian Himalayan Region 11
  Basics of Agro ecosystems and Functions 24
  Energy Flow 24
  Cycling of Materials 26
  Changes in Ecosystems 27
  Changing Development Dilemma in Himalayan Region 28
  Prehistoric Settlements in Himalayas 29
  Natural Resources Management Development and Conservation 32
  Sustainable development of Mountain Agriculture 33
  Sustainable Mountain Tourism 38
3 Atmospheric Aspects 43
  Introduction 43
  Barrier Effects 46
  Geographical Factors 47
  Altitudinal Effects 48
  Latitudinal Effects 48
  Longitudinal Effects 49
  Micro – Climates 49
  Thermal Effects 51
  Dynamical Effects 52
  Seasonal Aspects 53
  Monsoon 54
  Precipitation Distribution 55
  Hydrometeors and Hydrometeorology 57
  Paleoclimatological Investigations 60
  Climate Change Investigations 68
  Weather Forecasting 72
  Agrometeorology 74
4 Geospheric and Hydorlogic Aspects 79
  Introduction 79
  Orogeny 79
  Geology and Geomorphology 82
  Geotectonics and Geodynamics 85
  Mineral Wealth 86
  Geothermal Energy 87
  Glaciations 88
  Snow Cover 90
  Glacial Cover 93
  Glacier Inventory 99
  Soil formations 102
  Soil Erosion and Sediment Transport 104
  Natural Lake Systems 107
  Perennial River Systems 108
  The Indus River Basin 111
  The Ganga River Basin 114
  The Brahmaputra River Basin 120
  Man – Made Water Reservoirs 122
  Springs, surface flow and Groundwater 124
5 Biospheric Aspects 126
  Introduction 126
  Pastures and Grasslands 127
  Forests 129
  Food Crops 137
  Horticultural Crops 140
  Medicinal Plants 145
  Livestocks 148
  Fisheries 149
  Micro organisms 151
  Biodiversity 154
  Conservation Measures and Biosphere Reserves in Indian Himalayas 162
6 Natural Disasters and Mitigation 167
  Introduction 167
  High Seismicity 170
  Climatic Extremes 171
  Snow and Ice Avalanches 173
  Debris Flows, Mudflows and Debris Slides 175
  Outbursts from Moraine Dammed Lakes 176
  Glacier lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs) 176
  Forest Fires 178
  Mitigation of Natural Hazards 180
7 Socio Economic Aspects 188
  Introduction 188
  Some Socio-economic problems 189
  Degradation of Common Property Resources (CPRs) 190
  Food Insecurity 190
  Migration of Male working Population 191
  Poor Technical and Management Skill 191
  Structural and Altitudinal conditions of Social Set-up 191
  Local Institutions 191
  Women Organizations and Empowerment 192
8 Resource monitoring, Institutional Infrastructure and Policy issues 195
  Resource Monitoring 195
  Institutional Infrastructure 199
  Policy Issues 204
  Epilogue 209
  References 237
  Appendices 249

Sample Pages

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