Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Threats caused by dam-building activities in Indian Himalaya

Date:
January 17, 2013
Source:
National University of Singapore
Summary:
A team of researchers found that unprecedented dam building in the Indian Himalaya holds serious consequences for biodiversity and could pose a threat to human lives and livelihoods.

Tehri Dam lake in northern India.
Credit: © Dario Bajurin / Fotolia

A team of researchers led by Professor Maharaj K. Pandit from the University Scholars Programme at the National University of Singapore (NUS) found that unprecedented dam building in the Indian Himalaya holds serious consequences for biodiversity and could pose a threat to human lives and livelihoods.

Prof Pandit, who also holds a courtesy appointment with the Department of Geography at the NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, and his team at the University of Delhi and the Kunming Institute of Botany of the Chinese Academy of Sciences investigated close to 300 dams and related hydropower infrastructure on the Himalayan rivers across some of the biggest river basins in the world, namely the Indus, Ganga and Brahmaputra. The study, co-funded by NUS, was published in the journal Science in January 2013 as well as other scientific journals such as Conservation Biology, PLOS ONE and cited in a Nature article in 2012.

Impact of dam-building activities on biodiversity

Using field data and modelling, the researchers discovered that almost 90% of the Himalayan valleys would be affected by dam building and that 27% of these dams would affect dense forests with unique biodiversity. The team projected that dam-related activities will submerge and destroy about 170,000 hectares of forests. The researchers also predicted that the dam density in the Himalaya is likely to be about 62 times greater than the current global average, which would result in deforestation and the extinction of 22 flowering plants and 7 vertebrate species.

Impact of dam-building activities on human lives

Furthermore, the study found that water volume is the main driver of the richness of fish species in the rivers. Water withdrawals due to massive dam building activity would seriously undermine fish survival and diversity, fragment habitats and limit fish migration in these rivers, with long-term consequences for the livelihoods of fishermen.

Besides threatening biodiversity, the study also revealed the impact of dam-building activities on human lives and livelihoods. Due to high population density, dams have displaced Indian citizens for decades.

Prof Pandit opined, "We are deeply aware of the country's need to develop economically. However, there is a need to balance development and not venture into haphazard dam building without caring for biodiversity and people."

Recommendations to improve dam-building projects

The findings from the study highlight the need for sustainable power development. In their paper published in Science, Prof Pandit and his co-author Dr Edward Grumbine from the Kunming Institute of Botany of the Chinese Academy of Sciences provided suggestions to improve the planning and implementation of India's proposed Himalaya hydropower projects such as the reduction of power losses during transmission and distribution.

Prof Pandit sees an important role for Singapore in this area. He explained, "The power infrastructure in India is worn out and needs to be updated. Singapore has the technological know-how in the maintenance of transmission and distribution networks and this is a golden opportunity for Singapore to provide expertise to aid India's efforts on environmental conservation."

Further research into biodiversity and conservation

Prof Pandit will continue his research on the impact of water withdrawals on the biodiversity of Himalayan rivers at NUS. His research will focus on the large number of endemic species inhabiting the marshy habitats and the floodplains in the Himalayan foothills, such as the one-horned rhino, which are likely to go extinct due to upstream water withdrawals.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National University of Singapore. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. R. E. Grumbine, M. K. Pandit. Threats from India's Himalaya Dams. Science, 2013; 339 (6115): 36 DOI: 10.1126/science.1227211

Cite This Page:

National University of Singapore. "Threats caused by dam-building activities in Indian Himalaya." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 January 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130117105659.htm>.
National University of Singapore. (2013, January 17). Threats caused by dam-building activities in Indian Himalaya. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130117105659.htm
National University of Singapore. "Threats caused by dam-building activities in Indian Himalaya." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130117105659.htm (accessed April 23, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

UN Joint Mission Starts Removing Landmines in Cyprus

UN Joint Mission Starts Removing Landmines in Cyprus

AFP (Apr. 23, 2014) — The UN mission in Cyprus (UNFICYP) led a mine clearance demonstration on Wednesday in the UN-controlled buffer zone where demining operations are being conducted near the Cypriot village of Mammari. Duration: 01:00 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
California Drought Is Good News for Gold Prospectors

California Drought Is Good News for Gold Prospectors

AFP (Apr. 22, 2014) — For months California has suffered from a historic drought. The lack of water is worrying for farmers and ranchers, but for gold diggers it’s a stroke of good fortune. With water levels low, normally inaccessible areas are exposed. Duration: 01:57 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: MN Lakes Still Frozen Before Fishing Opener

Raw: MN Lakes Still Frozen Before Fishing Opener

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) — With only three weeks until Minnesota's fishing opener, many are wondering if the ice will be gone. Some of the Northland lakes are still covered by up to three feet of ice, causing concern that just like last year, the lakes won't be ready. (April 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Warn Of Likely El Niño Event This Year

Scientists Warn Of Likely El Niño Event This Year

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) — With Pacific ocean water already showing signs of warming, the NOAA says there's about a 66 percent chance the event will begin before November. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins