In the first such attempt, the Centre will carry out surveys to trace lost springs in deep pockets of the Himalayas, aiming to solve water woes of locals by reviving aquatic resources.
The studies will be conducted in the region stretching from Jammu and Kashmir to north-eastern states along with the state governments, sources in the water resources ministry said.
The Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) has already put forward a proposal with the ministry to conduct pilot studies to collect baseline information in this connection in Uttarakhand and Sikkim in the project’s first phase.
Rejuvenation of springs, identified as potential resources of water in the first phase, will happen in the second leg of the project which is expected to take off “soon” after the ministry approves it, they said.
A spring is a point from where water flows out of aquifers (layer of rock which contains groundwater) to the earth’s surface.
Spring water is used for several purposes including drinking and irrigation.
Spring discharge varies from season-to-season. It is at lowest level during summer and peaks during monsoon.
During a lean span, active springs can discharge water at a rate of nearly half a litre per minute. The largest springs can discharge water at a rate of nearly 1.5 lakh litres per minute at their peak.
“People in the hills rely heavily on two resources: springs and rivers. But it has been observed that springs have dried upand disappeared at several places due to variety of reasons like disasters such as landslides, change in climatic conditions, among others,” sources said.
“So, to deal with the problem of shortage faced during summer particularly, in the long-run, the CGWB has proposed to conduct the study in the first such attempt,” they added.
The sources cited example of a hot water resource in Gaurikund in Uttarakhand that disappeared after the 2013 floods and landslides in the northern state. The CGWB has already conducted a survey there.
The sources added Jammu and Kashmir Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh has also discussed issue of two lost springs in the state with Union Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti.
“For now, we will conduct pilot studies in Uttarakhand and Sikkim with the help of the state governments there. The two states have responded positively,” the sources said.
On revival of springs, the sources said that each spring has a different character and therefore the time it takes to be restored may vary from that taken by another.
In other words, the revival of springs is dependent on how effectively groundwater recharge in the area concerned takes place and rate of water withdrawal.
“The characteristics of springs are dynamic. A spring may get rejuvenated in one monsoon, another may take more,” the sources said.