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Modi to Uttarakhand CM: Take measures to stop water crisis

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken serious note of the recurring water crisis in Uttarakhand and has directed the state government to initiate measures for conservation and storage of rainwater so that it can be used during the summer months

dehradun Updated: Jun 15, 2018 22:27 IST
Deep Joshi
Deep Joshi
Hindustan Times, Dehradun
Uttarakhand News
Modi has also suggested that the state government involve gram panchayats and other grassroots level organisations in conservation efforts.(File/REUTERS)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken serious note of the recurring water crisis in Uttarakhand and has directed the state government to initiate measures for conservation and storage of rainwater so that it can be used during the summer months.

Modi has also suggested that the state government involve gram panchayats and other grassroots level organisations in conservation efforts.

“Conservation and storage of rainwater are needed so that maximum use of the precious resource is possible,” Modi has suggested in a letter to chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat. “I am writing to you so that timely and concrete steps can be taken with regard to an important issue,” it read prompting chief secretary Utpal Kumar Singh to issue instructions to forest, irrigation and Pey Jal Nigam departments.

The PM had written the letter on April 29 with detailed instructions on conservation and storage of rainwater. He has mentioned measures such as digging new ponds, dredging existing ponds and irrigation tanks meant for rainwater storage and their repairing. Other measures listed include establishing micro-watersheds and construction of structures for groundwater recharge.

The Prime Minister’s intervention also brings to the fore the lackadaisical attitude of agencies engaged in water conservation. It becomes clear from the chief secretary’s letter in which he pulls up the forest, irrigation, and Uttarakhand Pey Jal Nigam and Swajal (an agency hired by the government) for not measuring the discharge of natural springs for the last few years. The top official has also directed all three departments and Swajal to finish measuring the discharge of natural springs across the state using state-of-the-art GPS by “this year”.

In fact, a recent report by the State Planning Commission validates his concern. According to the study, Jal Sansthan, (water works department) had discontinued measuring the discharge of natural springs dotting the region in 2009. The study suggests that all possibilities of recharging natural springs and their catchments were hermetically sealed, as Swajal, which was assigned the task of measuring the discharge, left it unfinished.

The study states that three letters had been issued by the office of chief secretary since 2004 directing the departments concerned to augment sources of water and enforce the rainwater harvesting system. “None of these letters was acted upon, let alone the departments concerned attaching any importance to the directives,” the study notes.

The study also notes that out of 5,257 water supply schemes that were set up in 2005, the summer discharge of some 2030 (water supply schemes depleted by 50 to 90%) Similarly in 2009, the discharge of more than 1,699 water supply schemes also depleted in the same proportion.

In a recent interview to HT, state planning commission advisor HP Uniyal had warned that all hill stations in Uttarakhand would go the Shimla way if measures to conserve rainwater were not taken on a war footing.

First Published: Jun 15, 2018 22:27 IST