Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh on Thursday announced that all out efforts would be made to protect the Himalayan glaciers.
Addressing a media conference in Srinagar, Dr Singh announced the launch of the National Mission on Sustaining the Himalayan Eco-system, a project that will research the findings made by a recent study by the Kashmir University. According to the report, glaciers in Kashmir were melting fast, which may threaten the water supply in the valley and deprive millions of their livelihood.
Dr Singh was speaking at a public meeting in south Kashmir's Anantnag district after the commissioning of the extended rail link on Wednesday. He said the "government was concerned about the reports of receding glaciers".
"We wish to preserve the sacred heritage of places like the Amarnath shrine."
The study by the University of Kashmir had shown that the Kolahoi glacier, the biggest in the valley, was shrinking at an alarming rate.
The prime minister also expressed concern over the deterioration of the eco-system of the world famous Dal Lake describing it as the "icon of the tourism industry in Kashmir".
"We have been funding a project for the conservation of the lake, but progress has been slow. I would urge the state government to set up a task force to expedite the project. The Centre has decided to commit additional funds of Rs 356 crore for this project. We will also discuss with the state government how to expedite ongoing projects for the conservation of Wullar Lake and Mansar Lake."
"The majesty and splendour of this beautiful valley and the culture of hospitality of the Kashmiri people are second to none. Its magnificent lakes and forests have charmed travellers for centuries. It offers the solemnity of the Buddhist monasteries of Ladakh, the treasures of the Hazratbal shrine and the piety of the Raghunath temple. Let us build Kashmir into one of the world's top tourist destinations," Dr Singh said.