Siachen: Highest Battle Ground On Earth OR Peace Park

Siachen means a land of abundance of roses, Sia means roses and chen means abundance.
Just in the north of the Line of Control of India and Paksitan , Siachen glaciers is located.
It is the longest glacier in the Karakoram and the second longest in the world’s polar areas.
It is also known as the highest battleground on the earth about 6000 m.
There have been many military operations by India and Pakistan and both claim their autonomy over entire Siachen district. Its geographical location has made that place to be unpopulated and desolated.
The climatic condition in Siachen is so harsh that many soldiers have been died due to weather rather combating each other.

 

The place where crows don’t dare to go in winter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The army lives on the glacier with many constraints and resource chomp. Supplies are taken up by helicopters and there is always shortage of air transport, sometimes even to bring down an injured. Under such trying circumstances it was hardly surprising that the glacier was not in best of the environmental condition. With so many humans living on the glacier the accumulation of garbage was in abundance. Much of garbage was put into crevasses or dumped on rocks and snow. In winters all this is covered under at least 5 m (40 feet) of snow and the entire area appears a beautiful white sheet. But in summer all the cans, drums and human waste surface and litter is seen everywhere.  Worst offenders are tetra packs in which fruit juices are delivered on the glacier. These aluminium foils, which cannot be burnt or destroyed, line the routes which are traversed and are a major eye-sore. A pipeline is laid on the Glacier to pump thousands of litres of kerosene for troops to survive. But when a connection breaks or pipe bursts hundreds of litres of kerosene is spilled  on to the snows of the Siachen leading to a major hazard.

Army cannot burn the garbage on the glacier, it cannot be destroyed there or be brought down. At the same time the area has to be defended and the army has to stay there. What should be the solution to this environmental problem ?

Rose plants, which are strong and grow near the snout have also suffered. Many were cut and their stems used as decorative pieces or even as tent-pegs ! Attention of the army was drawn to this and they have assured that the rose plants will be declared as a rare species and no harm will be done to them in future. This will be a wonderful beginning and the army can build on this for full environmental protection of the glacier. The ultimate solution will of course be to end the war but till then under the present situation utmost care must be taken not to damage the environment further.

Wild roses along the Nubra lend colour to the snow-clad hills in Siachen.

The Himalayas, born 70 million years ago, stretch for 2500 km across eight countries, cover 3.4 million km2, and are home to 30 million indigenous peoples.  They are the water tower for millions of people, providing the source of the Indus, Ganges, Jamuna , Brahmaputra, Hwang Ho, Yangtze Kiang and many others.  The cost of this operation is about Rs. 5 crores a day.  This is about 50 times higher than the costs to Pakistan, which has easier access by road, with much lower base camps (9000 ft.)  and with posts at lower altitudes (up to 15,000 ft.).  Though less expensive than India’s operation, it is yet a heavy expenditure.  For both countries,  this is an intolerable drain.  They are not rich countries, with a fifth of the world’s population but a half of the world’s poor. It is not easy to imagine the pollution caused by thousands of men living up there, with every item of necessity being flown in.  Cans, drums, tetra packs of fruit juices, aluminium packaging: this can neither be burnt, nor destroyed nor taken back.  Imagine the human waste.  This amounts to over 1000 kgs.  a day; it is packed in metal drums and dropped into crevasses – up to 4000 drums a year.  This, together with hundreds of tons of garbage, will then be our legacy to future generations when the glacier finally reaches the end of its journey.

A few question to be asked from both India and Pakistanis government:

  1. Do you have the right to destroy one of the Himalaya’s most majestic areas before

leaving it to future generations?

2.    Do you have the right to despoil the country without the leave of the local peoples?

3.    Do you have the right to degrade the mountains which are the source of water for millions?

4.    Do you have the right to turn the Abode of the Gods into a nightmare landscape?

Something to be learned from Other Nations of the World:

  1. La Amistad Peace Park between Costa Rica and Nicaragua
  2. Peace Park on both sides of the Evros River between Greece and Turkey
  3. Hungary, Yugoslavia and Croatia agreed to establish a cross-border nature reserve, while in February 2000, Albania, Greece and Macedonia announced the Establishment of the Prespa Park.

Even the crows would not dare to go to Siachen during the winter. Why couldn’t India and Pakistan come to an agreement to keep the Siachen heights unmanned as they were till 1984? Former Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee seemed to plead for the jawan when he wrote in his poem, Never Place Me So High: “On a very high mountain, trees cannot take root/ Plants do not grow, grass will not survive/ Only snow remains/ White as the shroud and cold as death.” 

The creation of the Siachen Peace Park would not only preserve a spectacular mountain region;  it would defuse an armed stand-off, ease political tensions, facilitate further agreement between India and Pakistan, and represent a tremendous saving in resources.  The ibex and the snow leopard would return, the roses would bloom again. Thankfully the wheels of peace are moving positively and for several months (at the time of writing) there has been a complete ceasefire in Kashmir, and particularly on the heights of the Siachen.  The trans-boundary park could be a positive force in cementing the peace and rehabilitating an environment in which ibexes and snow leopards can roam and the wild Sia bloom. Then mountaineers can return to this majestic landscape redolent with the romance of early exploration. There is too, an ambition among climbers from both nations that we will be able to walk up the glacier and, with a shake of hands at the border pass, bring that spirit of comradeship displayed on the Mönch to reality on the Siachen glacier. The Siachen issue was part of the memo when President Asif Ali Zardari visited India last month to hold an informal meeting with Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh. Media reports suggested that the two sides are looking into prospects of declaring the glacier as a military-free zone.

‘Information has taken from Siachen-booklet’

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