Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Hot water discovered in Siachen

The highest battlefield in the world, Siachen glacier, hides a warming truth, recently discovered. Geologists have discovered hot water from geothermal sources in the glacier which is nearly 15 degrees warm in plunging -40 degree Celsius weather. The hot source has come as a relief in the freezing conditions as it can now be used for growing vegetables, setting up green houses on the glacier besides cutting down heavy reliance on expensive fossil fuels.

The Indian army had outsourced the project of first discovering ground water in Siachen sector as soldiers were being compelled to melt ice from the frozen Siachen river to quench their thirst and for all other purposes. Ritesh Arya, the project director, known for establishing a record in the Guinness Book of World Records, for discovering water sources at highest altitude in Ladakh, told TOI from Leh,"We had drilled holes a decade ago for the army, in coordination with 4 Engineers Corps, to discover underground water sources in Siachen. Last year, we were assigned a task to explore and develop geothermal source in Siachen Base Camp by Indian Army. We explored the site for geothermal development by drilling borewell but it was a tough task especially as it was assigned on' no water, no money' basis."

It took several months before the source of geothermal site was discovered, in October, last year." We wanted to test the source in winters. We finally visited the site on 18 April, 2012 with engineers from 17 Eng Corps and the discovery of geothermal source at base camp was established,"said Dr Arya.

A PU alumnus, Dr Arya, said that the borewells for groundwater in Siachen has been giving 24 hours water even in winters when temperatures drop to minus 40 degrees. "Though the temperatures of the source are not very high but still the water can be put to good use for developing green houses for growing vegetables, bathing, washing etc. So far the army is relying only on fossil fuels for heating water which is a very expensive proposition at the altitude of 19000 feet," he said.

Raising concern about the shrinking of Siachen glacier the geologist said, "The glacier has receded sharply and we are investigating how much. The glacier should be demilitarized, as the Pakistan army is mooting, and instead it should be developed as a geothermal tourist destination for which it has vast unexplored potential."