Category Archives: Tourism

Hot water discovered in Siachen by Dr Arya – The Times of India


Hot water discovered in Siachen by Dr Arya – The Times of India                              , TNN | May 1, 2012, 09.24PM IST

                                          Dr Arya with Army troops at Siachen                                        (background Siachen Glacier and warm water oozing from the borewell)

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.

Siachen Glacier (Receeding due to warming)

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 14000 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.”

Hot water discovered i


Borewells sunk at Ladakh heights! – Dr Ritesh Arya

Borewells sunk at Ladakh heights!
Tribune News Service 

SOLAN: Dr Ritesh Arya, Kasauli- based geologist-turned-hydrologist, has accomplished the path-breaking feat (hitherto deemed impossible) of sinking borewells at altitudes varying from 13,000 to 18,000 feet, in the barren mountain deserts of Ladakh.

Thanks to the expertise of this young alumnus of Panjab University’s Geology Department, 22 hand pumps were functioning, yielding a heavy discharge of sweet, potable water, at Sonam Ling settlement in Choglamsar (13,000 ft.), near Leh, and an unspecified number at Thoise in the Nubra valley, which is at a height of 18,000 ft. The Indian Air Force maintains a base camp at Thoise for supplies to the Army’s Siachen glacier garrison.

These handpumps, considered to be the first-ever such devices at such high altitudes, were installed in June 1998 and have successfully withstood the harsh conditions of peak winter, when temperatures dipped to as low as -20° to -25° Celsius in the area. These had been hailed as a boon, both by the 5,000 odd residents of Sonam Ling and the defence establishment at Thoise.

Before the installation of these pumps, the residents of Choglamsar were forced to trek up to 4 km just to get a pail of water from the Sutlej, flowing nearly a 1000 ft below their settlement, and the establishment at Thoise had to undergo a similar ordeal in getting water from the Shyok.

Both rivers freeze during the severe winter, leaving no choice to the people of Choglamsar and Thoise except to melt snow with precious fuel for obtaining the barest minimum water. In fact, according to legend, the difficulties encountered on account of scarcity of water in Ladakh had lead the British to name the capital town, Leh, which was derived from the first letter of a local saying “life ends here”.

Ironically, even as lakhs of people living in Himalayas suffer chronic water scarcity, there were no takers for Dr Arya’s handpumps. He has since 1993 been propounding the theory that almost every Himalayan mountain peak, including Mt Everest, contained huge reservoirs of water that could provide a ‘perennial’ solution to the hill people’s water shortage. He had based his premise on the fact that the Himalayas, having emerged from a sea, had a lot of water underground.

As often happens with Indian scientists, Dr Arya got a break when a UK-based NGO got interested in his theory on “water aid”, enunciated in a paper which he read out in 1996 at an international conference in Beijing. Earlier, the “water aid” plan had been sought by the Dalai Lama’s Tibetan government-in-exile, for assistance in providing round-the-year water supplies to the Sonam Ling settlement at Choglamsar.

After agreeing to finance the project, the NGO contacted the Central Ground Water Board which promptly discounted any possibility of finding any ground water in the area and advised installation of a lift water scheme on the Sutlej using diesel generator sets. This was hardly a solution, as both diesel and water remain frozen for long durations in winter. During his five-year stint with the IPH Department in HP, he helped instal 400 handpumps in mountain tracts.

However, the water aid plan provided a ray of hope and got him the contract to drill 15 borewells in 1998, after the hydrologist, raring to have a go at proving his theories, offered “no water, no money” terms.

The success of the first 15 handpumps lead to aid being given by another NGO — a French one — for the installation of another seven at Sonam Ling. After these too proved to be successful, the IAF invited Dr Arya to do a similar job at Thoise.

Dr Arya at a meeting with this correspondent here last week, strongly advocated an immediate shift from the current emphasis on tapping of surface water resources to the one on “conjunctive utilisation of both ground and surface water resources” in all hill states.

He was of the view that surface water alone could never meet the hill man’s need fully as the discharge of water in springs, streams, and rivers was wholly dependent on certain weather conditions. It got depleted substantially at times when water was needed the most — in summers. Heavy silting during the rains and freezing of water during winter were the other factors that had a bearing on surface water flow.