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Move on Siachen hailed

Staff Reporter

He moots setting up of research stations

MALAPPURAM: Renowned glaciologist and Calicut University Vice-Chancellor Syed Iqbal Hasnain on Wednesday welcomed the Indo-Pak move to demilitarise Siachen, the world's highest battlefield.

Dr. Hasnain told The Hindu that demilitarisation of Siachen glacier would not only further relations between

India and Pakistan but also advance science and benefit the people of South Asia.

Dr. Hasnain said that withdrawal of troops should be followed up by allowing scientists to enter Siachen and start monitoring the glacial changes. Siachen glacier, which has already lost one-quarter of its mass, would face the worst degradation if the troops do not pull out now, said Dr. Hasnain, whose glaciological studies have been acclaimed the world over.

Dr. Hasnain and his associates like Syed Hamidullah, director of the Centre of Excellence in Geology at the University of Pershawar in Pakistan, and Jack Shroder and Michael Bishop, geoscientists from the University of Nebraska, U.S., have been calling for troop withdrawal from Siachen and turning it into a peace park for several years.

Glaciologists from around the world, including Dr. Hasnain, will gather next month in Rome as a preparatory meeting for a larger convention on Siachen to be held in Pakistan in April next year.

Dr. Hasnain said high altitude research stations for glaciological studies should be put up at the points where Indian and Pakistani troops are currently stationed.

"Apart from studying climate changes owing to glacial melting, these stations can function as monuments of Indian and Pakistani occupation of the region," he said.

No quantitative study of Siachen glacier is possible today because of the military presence. "Glacier systems can only be studied in a natural environment, and not in a modified environment," he said.

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