Amid drought-like conditions, water crisis looms large over Himachal

The water levels of major rivers have declined along with the amount of rain and snow received by the Himalayan state, which logged a 62% rain deficiency in March
There are around 32 water supply schemes in Mandi that are on the verge of drying up and nearly 80% water supply schemes have been impacted in Dharamshala zone. (Representative Photo/HT File)
There are around 32 water supply schemes in Mandi that are on the verge of drying up and nearly 80% water supply schemes have been impacted in Dharamshala zone. (Representative Photo/HT File)
Updated on Apr 13, 2021 12:59 AM IST
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ByGaurav Bisht, Shimla

The prevailing drought-like conditions in Himachal Pradesh are threatening perennial water sources and affecting around 700 water supply schemes across the hill-state.

The water levels of major rivers have declined along with the amount of rain and snow received by the Himalayan state, which logged a 62% rain deficiency in March. The rising temperature has further caused the water levels in rivers and water reservoirs to deplete. There has been a 75% decline in water sources, which is bound to aggravate the water crisis in rain-fed areas.

The repercussions will be graver in rural areas. Around 9,526 schemes cater water to 50,566 habitations in Himachal, of which 2,789 habitations have been affected by the arid climatic conditions.

Jal shakti dept ready for all contingencies

The jal shakti department has chalked out a master plan to the deal with the looming water crisis.

“The plans are ready. The schemes will be interlinked with each other to meet the water requirement. If required, we will also opt for water rationing,” Naveen Puri, engineer-in-chief, Jal Shakti department.

“The department has taken steps to check water leakages. We are now able to save around 12 lakh liters of water per day, “ he said .

There are around 32 water supply schemes in Mandi that are on the verge of drying up and nearly 80% water supply schemes have been impacted in Dharamshala zone.

The water levels have dropped to 75 % and in 83 schemes the water levels vary between 25% to 75%.

“In all, at least 220 schemes have been impacted by the dry spell. We are adopting adequate measures to meet the deficiency,” said chief engineer (Mandi zone) Dharmender Gill, adding that people were being sensitised to conserve water.

The Jal Shakti department had made a presentation regarding the same before the Cabinet. Minister Mahender Singh Thakur has also apprised chief minister Jai Ram Thakur of the prevailing weather conditions and its impact on the schemes. The CM later held a virtual meeting with the officers. The jal shkati department plans to lift water from irrigation schemes if the drought-like conditions persist.

Weather to remain dry in April, May: IMD

The weather department has predicted that the weather is likely to remain dry in the April and May. “This is not unusual as there are few rain spells between April and May,” said director, regional metrological department, Manmohan Singh.

The acute water crisis that had hit Shimla in 2018 had made the global headlines and the shortage had resulted in scattered midnight protests. Angry residents took to roads and blocked the traffic on town’s main circular road.

The MC had to resort to rationing and residents were being supplied water after eight days. Residents had sent out fervent appeals on social networking sites asking tourists to desist coming to Shimla and hordes of visitors returned after the water crisis hit town.

Shimla needs 45MLD of water daily to meet its demand but water supply in mid-May, 2018, had dropped to 28 MLD per day . The water crisis had become more acute in the last week of May when the supply fell to 2O MLD.

The arid climate in Himachal has already caused extensive damage to Rabi crops and delayed the vegetable sowing in the state .

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Saturday, December 04, 2021