THE Siachen Glacier – known as third pole of earth- is melting at an unprecedented rate due to the presence of Indian and Pakistani militaries. Military presence in the most fragile zone is not only causing melting of Siachen but health of other Himalayan glaciers is being badly affected. The glacier is bleeding due to the establishment of permanent cantonments on either side of Saltoro ridge. Daily heavy air traffic to advance camps, cutting and melting of glacial ice through application of chemical, daily dumping of more than a ton of chemicals, metals, organic and human waste is proving to be the last nail in its coffin. Some reports say that leakages are a norm from 250 km kerosene oil plastic pipeline laid by army throughout the glacier.
Joined in this process of rapid ice melting is mountain engineering feat completed in 1986, which laid an all weather road, purely as support-line to the military activities in the Siachen. With its final destination the Nubra Valley, routed from Delhi-Manali-Leh, it requires crossing the highest passes in the world, including the 5,300 meters high Tanglang La Pass. The constant movement of heavy military vehicles, which in turn are dependent on ancillary support along its way, are further endangering the ecology of the known 6500 glaciers in Himalayan regions, particularly Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttaranchal and Ladakh. This is further authenticated by a strong correlation between the melting of Siachen and other Himalayan glaciers like Meola, Gangotri which are already retreating at the rate of more than 30 meters per year. Siachen and other Himalayan glaciers contributed 24% to sea level rise during last 20 years, as reported by World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS) in 2005.