ISLAMABAD: No less than five man-made glaciers have been developed in Gilgit-Baltistan over the past three years to mitigate the effects of climate change and ensure the water supply to residents throughout the summers.
As part of the flood risk reduction of Glacier Lake Outburst Glof II – a project initiated by the Department of Climate Change – various universities and locals have helped place these gigantic stupas and glacier grafts at 4,700 meters above sea level. .
Gilgit-Baltistan University, Karakuram International Gilgit University, WAFA Foundation, the communities of Chundu Skardu village, Murko village in Nagar, Hussainabad village and Khuwadu village have taken part in this great environmental cause.
A total of three glacial grafts were developed during this period, including two in Skardu and one in Nagar district. Glacier grafting at Kwardo Skardu was completed in October 2019, while the other two, one in Skardu and the other in Nagar district, were completed on December 21 of last year.
At this time, two ice stupas were also developed. One in Hussainabad Skardu and the other in Khuwardu Skardu. All of these five glaciers and ice stupas are over 4000 meters above sea level except for one glacier graft which rises to 3263 meters.
This correspondent managed to speak to a UNDP official who was closely monitoring Glof II and a local resident of GB who explained to The News the whole procedure of making these man-made glaciers and ice stupas.
Miss Mahvish explaining the glacier grafting activity said that up to 7-8 feet of pit is dug until it reaches the level of permafrost to put glaciers in it. This pit must be dug at an altitude of 4,500 to 5,000 meters above sea level on a screen slope shaded by a mountain cliff so that the grafted glaciers are protected from the sun, she said. Explain.
Glaciers, according to folklore, are endowed with male and female identities. The male glacier, locally “po gang”, is gray and covered with much debris, while the female glacier, “mo gang”, is white, shiny and free of debris.
These male and female glaciers, weighing about 35 kg, covered with hay, are taken from different sites in chorong (basket of willow twigs) to the pit dug for grafting. According to Shamsher Ali, a resident of Kharmang, the apricot kernels are deposited at the bottom of the pit. Then hay is put, then ice, then hay again, then apricot kernels again, then a female glacier, and finally a male glacier is placed.
This practice is accompanied by hymns and rituals, the sacrifice of animals being the most important. The whole practice is celebrated as the “glacier wedding”, which is expected to be accomplished within 12 years.
In the ice stupa, there are no moving parts, no electricity is needed, just gravity. The bushes are used to shape the ice stupa and it is also called the ice stupa skeleton. The shape of the ice stupa helps store water vertically, allowing the ice to stay frozen by reducing the area exposed to the sun compared to other man-made glaciers. According to Mahvish (UNDP spokesperson), ice stupas are seen every week and are expected to provide water to thousands of residents during the summers.