How will the melting of Himalayan glaciers have a far-reaching impact on the water resources of India?

How will the melting of Himalayan glaciers have a far-reaching impact on the water resources of India? (Answer in 150 words) 10


  • Introduction:
    • Recent glacier melting is a consequence of both human-induced (anthropogenic) factors and natural phenomena.
  • Body:
    • The rapid melting of glaciers significantly impacts the water resources of India, leading to alterations in the water supply for various purposes such as agriculture, industry, and domestic consumption.
    • This alteration poses a threat to the availability of water for millions of people, especially in regions dependent on glacier meltwater for their water needs.
  • Conclusion:
    • In response to this critical issue, the government has initiated various measures, including the implementation of sustainable water management practices, the promotion of water conservation techniques, and the development of policies to mitigate the impacts of glacier melting on water resources.


The Himalayas are commonly known as the Third Pole, serving as the primary water source for rivers that sustain one-third of the global population.

Nevertheless, the accelerated melting of Himalayan glaciers has created significant strain on India’s vital water resources.


Impact of Himalayan Glacier Melting

The regular occurrences of floods and droughts

  • Himalayan glaciers sustain over two billion people through ten main rivers originating from them.
  • The region houses 8,790 glacial lakes, posing a risk of floods due to rapid glacier melting.
  • Examples include the flash floods in Uttarakhand in 2013 and 2021.
  • Glacier melt initially increases streamflow but could lead to prolonged drought conditions as the flow reduces over time.

Influence on Monsoon

  • The Himalayas play a crucial role in driving seasonal shifts in monsoon circulation and rainfall distribution across India.
  • 70% of India’s annual rainfall is attributed to the south-west monsoon.
  • Based on IPCC forecasts, glacier melting suggests a potential rise in summer rainfall by 4-12% in the near term and 4-25% in the long term.
  • Shifts in monsoon patterns, including more intense and frequent storms, might trigger mountain hazards capable of damaging essential infrastructure.

Disrupting Indian River Flow

  • The escalation in glacial melts may disrupt the flow of Indian rivers by altering their streamflow.
  • The Ganga and Brahmaputra, among others, are dependent on both glacier melt and monsoon for their water supply.
  • Such changes could significantly impede agriculture, which currently consumes the largest portion of water resources in the region.


As per a recent IPCC assessment, the Himalayan glaciers are undergoing a concerning trend of rapid melting and retreat. Failure to implement sufficient measures to curb global warming could result in the loss of two-thirds of glaciers in the Hindu Kush Himalayas by the year 2100.

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