Siachen Glacier – Highest battlefield on Earth

By Narendra V

siachen

SIACHEN GLACIERsiachen

Siachen glacier is located in the Himalayas in Jammu and Kashmir State near LOC (Line of Control). Siachen means place of wild roses in local Balti language. It is one of the largest glaciers in the world apart from Polar Regions and often called as third pole. Its average altitude is 5400 metres above sea level. The glacier is in between Saltoro ridge and Karakoram Range. Here temperatures can fall below -50C. It is 76 kilometres in length.

It is situated in northern most point of LOC. Before 1984 no military presence was there, In 1984 Indian Army Launched Operation Meghdoot and taken control of entire glacier pre-empting Pakistan’s claims over the area. Pakistan has occupied west of Saltoro Ridge. Since then India is continuing to protect that area by permanently deploying thousands of soldiers round the year. But due to harsh climatic conditions, avalanches, health conditions more than 800 Indian soldiers have died since then. The region is very remote and is not populated so access is very difficult, but Indian Army laid roads to reach base camp which is 72 km from Siachen glacier’s peak.

Highest battle field on Earth

As India and Pakistan have military presence in that area frequent skirmishes happen in the region.  Efforts have been made to demilitarize that area but 1999 Pakistan’s incursions and eventual Kargil conflict, India decided not to vacate that area at any cost. Siachen is taking more lives than in conflicts in the region. Pakistan lost 129 soldiers in 2012 avalanche; India lost 10 soldiers recently in 2016. President of India Abdul Kalam visited Siachen In 2011 and became first President to do so.

India is allowing limited trekking for military academies and families of military people.

Environmental Concerns

Due to heavy military presence the troops produce garbage which is polluting the area. Due to very low temperatures even bio-degradable items like food waste also don’t decompose there. Indian Defense research organizations are developing new techniques to dispose off garbage and to make Green Siachen. Constant human presence and activity making the glacier to retreat rapidly, in last 50 years it retreated 30%. Environmentalists worldwide proposing Siachen Peace Park in accordance with World Parks Congress and making the area World Heritage site by UN.

 

 

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