Water scarcity leaves residents high and dry

  • Arvind Moudgil, Hindustan Times, Pauri Garhwal
  • Updated: Apr 01, 2015 16:51 IST

For the residents of Pauri, this summer will once again mean either queuing up outside a well or trekking miles and miles to fetch some water for their daily chores.

The situation has remained unchanged for more than a decade now.

Pauri is one of the districts of Garhwal that faces acute shortage of water. The worst hit areas are the 300 habitats under the Jal Nigam, Pauri division.

Women and children carrying water-filled pots and buckets on their heads from far off places are a common sight in Thalisain, Bironkhal, Pokhra, Khirsu, Kaljikhal and Kot block of Pauri district.

People in these areas are mainly dependent on the natural water resources for their daily needs but with the passage of time, most of the resources have dried up.

According to the experts here, the unscientific construction of roads has also contributed to this problem by disturbing the water channels and drying up the water resources.

As far as the efforts to revive the drying natural resources are concerned, the Jal Nigam Pauri division has only built 6 recharge pits, 150 metres of contour trenching and 12 check dams in the year 2014-15. RC Mishra, executive engineer, Jal Nigam said 70% of water resources have been left untreated because either they are on the private land or in the forest area and the clearance to repair them is hard to get.

Most of the alternative water procurement projects are held up in absence of sanction of money from the Centre under the National Rural Drinking Water Programme.

In the last financial year, 29 drinking water projects were sent to the government from the Pauri division but only 7 received a go ahead.

All the small drinking water projects in the rural areas are taken up by the Jal Nigam under the Sector Wide Approach Programme (SWAP) to involve the local people in the drinking water projects in their area and the entire money is released to the Pradhans. But the quality and pace of the work are compromised, as the Pradhans assume the role of contractors themselves, undertaking the projects without any technical knowhow, alleged Tribhuvan Uniyal, former member Zila Panchayat, Pauri. Some officials of Jal Nigam also confirmed this report but refused to give any statement.

The cleanliness campaign of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the scheme to build toilets in the villages become irrelevant in an area where water is hardly available for drinking purposes, said Umacharan Barthwal, former member District Planning Committee. He said the Centre should release money on time to improve the state of affairs here.

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