In a first, river-landscape based approach used to rejuvenate 50-km-long Heval river in Uttarakhand
The project is the brainchild of Indian Forest Service (IFS) officer Dharm Singh Meena, divisional forest officer (DFO), Narendra Nagar forest division.Updated: Aug 01, 2020 16:50 IST
Uttarakhand is conducting the country’s first river-landscape based approach to rejuvenate the 50-kilometre (km)-long Heval river in Narendra Nagar forest division in Tehri Garhwal district, which has over one lakh people across 167 villages dependent on it.
The project is the brainchild of Indian Forest Service (IFS) officer Dharm Singh Meena, divisional forest officer (DFO), Narendra Nagar forest division.
Meena said the maiden river rejuvenation project not just focuses on the water body but the entire landscape.
Heval river, one of the many tributaries of the Ganges, originates as Khuret Gaad from the forests, near Surkanda Devi and Nagdevta temple in Tehri Garhwal district. It is a perennial river in the Chamba block that is used for both drinking water and irrigation.
“This is for the first time in the country that any river is being studied from its origin until its mouth for rejuvenation. So far, we have identified 38 springs that flow into the river. We found that water from maximum springs is being tapped and used as drinking water. This is the primary reason behind groundwater depletion. We are trying to work on the treatment of the entire river landscape in a bid to encourage locals to enjoy the benefits of sustainable living,” said Meena.
Officials have identified 38 and 15 springs and streams, respectively, of the river in a 30-km stretch from its origin during their geological and hydro-geological studies. The work is in progress for the remaining 20-km stretch.
Raw water pond, trenches, check dams, and afforestation have been proposed along with erosion control as part of the stream-shed treatment activities.
“Recharge pits, staggered contour trenches, pine-needle check dams, brushwood check-dams, random rubber walls check dam, crate wire check dams, among other initiatives, have been undertaken. The aim is to gradually reduce water’s velocity and then store the water naturally along with checking soil erosion. Over the years, these engineering structures will be replaced by vegetative measures, as part of the comprehensive eco-friendly initiative,” the official added.
Young brushwood was used for making check dams, as it has fibrous roots that will grow into trees and gradually help prevent soil erosion and also naturally recharge the groundwater level.
Plans are afoot to rope in 18 van panchayats for afforestation activities in river landscape and workers will be deployed under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), 2005, scheme.
The official said that the main indicator of the project showing results is the increase in water level in six springs during summer.
“Earlier, the water used to be very less in these springs during summer, but now villagers are requesting us to install a pumping system to ensure that water reaches their villages. This shows that we are succeeding in the rejuvenation work, whose results will become apparent in a year or two,” said Meena.
Officials have noticed the increase in the water table at certain springs, as the water discharge has risen from one litre per minute to 1.85 litre per minute.