The Uttarakhand forest fires threaten lasting damage to Himalayan glaciers.
Dehradun: The forest fires in Uttarakhand, which have devastated acres of green cover in the hills, may have a lasting impact on the Himalayan glaciers and cause them to melt faster, say experts.
Here are 10 developments in the story:
Experts have said that black carbon from the smoke and ash is covering the glaciers and may cause them to melt faster.
The glaciers are the lifeline of major rivers flowing through northern India. The water in the rivers could also be polluted by harmful chemicals, experts fear.
There are active fires at around 100 places in Uttarakhand. Around 10,000 people in the state, including residents, are involved in fighting the circles of fire. Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar has said the forest fires in Uttarakhand "will be completely doused in two days".
Five people have died till now. A police constable who was part of a fire-fighting team was killed yesterday after being hit by a boulder hurtling down the hill.
The fires, which have burnt for over two months, have also caused massive damage to the fauna in Uttarakhand.
"While larger animals such as tigers, elephants, deer and wild boars have for ages managed to steer clear of fires and make their way to safer grounds, the real loss to our biodiversity is to birds which lay eggs on shrubs and their young ones who cannot escape the inferno," said Chief Conservator of forests Jai Raj.
In neighbouring Himachal Pradesh, hundreds of people stayed up all night in the popular hill resort Kasauli to stop the fires from destroying their homes.
Residents managed to put out the fires well past midnight. The Pinegrove school has sent its students off on a five-day vacation.
People in the two states are also worried about the impact on tourism, which is heaviest in peak summer. Both Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh are known for popular hill getaways where there is a real fear of heavy air pollution.