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Nature rescues Dharamsala

Verdant hill towns are not supposed to have water shortages. However Dharamsala, best known for being home of the Tibetan Government in exile, has been facing a water shortage for a while. But this year rains and the melting snow from the Dhauladhar range has kept water shortages at bay.

india Updated: Jun 03, 2003 17:54 IST

Been on a visit to the Dalai Lama in recent years at his hill refuge?If you went in summer, then you are sure to remember the water crisis in Dharamsala.

All planning a visit this summer can go without such apprehensions, for there's a surprise. The usual phenomenon of taps running dry in summer is surprisingly missing this year in Dharamsala and adjacent hilltop town of Mcleodganj.

However this is more due to the kindness of nature rather than any human intervention. Though there has been a decline in the water table of potable water sources, snow on the nearby Dhauladhar mountain range coupled with area receiving rain in regular intervals in the past two months has saved the residents of these picturesque towns from facing ordeal of water scarcity.

However, loss in transmission and the uneven distribution of water is causing difficulties in few localities. Dharamsala's antiquated water supply system of used to start giving in with the onset of summer. But measures taken by Irrigation and Public Health Department (I&PH) well in advance helped by the weather not playing truant has saved people and tourists from grappling with water scarcity.

The major sources of water in Dharamsala are Old and New Naddi, Bhagsu spring, Charan Khad, Glanmoor and Dhoop Nullah, from where about 50 lakh litres of water flows everyday. Old Naddi and Charan Khad are the major source of potable water as the two sources provide about 13 lakh litres of water each, while about 3 lakh litres are being pumped from Bhagsu spring.

Against the daily consumption of over 60 lakh litres of water, the six natural water sources provide around 50 lakh litres. It was this rather large gap in demand and supply which had left people with little or no water last year.

The decision to install hand pumps in and around the town has considerably reduced the gap between demand and supply. There are about 80 hand pumps and three tubewells boards by the I&PH department in different locations in Dharamsala and Mcleodganj.

According to executive engineer Rajesh Kamal Sharma, of the 80 hand pumps as many as 25 have been energised to meet the gap in supply and demand, while the other 56 are being operated manually. As many as 13 hand pumps were energised this year to overcome water scarcity, said the I&PH officials.

Owing to the continuous dry spells and lack of snowfall, the quantity of water had reduced by almost 60 per cent in the past two years. "We have kept water tankers on the stand by those can be pressed into service at any given time. However so far we have not come across a situation wherein we have to provide potable water to people from tankers. This is a testimony in itself that this year we have enough water," said the executive engineer.

Pawan Sharma

First Published: May 30, 2003 17:25 IST