Five Per Cent Water Sources In Himalayas Have Dried Up

Dehradun: Climate change alone may not be the reason, but it is a matter of grave concern that almost 70 per cent of the water sources in the Himalayan region are just now half of what they were some years back, while as many as five per cent of the water falls that were once a common sight have dried up.

According to reports as per a study being conducted for the past over thirty years by scientists of the Wadia Himalaya Geology Institute here various perennial streams in the Himalayas have now been reduced to small nullahs whose flows are confined to the rainy season alone, drying up after the rains have receded.

What is appalling is the fact that most of these streams were tributaries to the bigger rivers that follow downhill to the plains and provide much needed water for irrigation and drinking purposes. With these tributaries being reduced to monsoon streams, the discharge of the various rivers that they flowed into has also been adversely affected.

Scientists believe that the climate change may be playing a major role in the reducing of the water levels and drying up of the water sources in the Himalayan region. They feel that the rain pattern has changed considerably due to the warming up and rains are now confined to a shorter period of time and coming down in torrents.

Because of this the water flow is fast and the rain water follows into the tivers and steams much before it has the time to percolate down. Earlier the intensity of the rains was less and they were spread over a greater period of time because of which the rain water would percolate down and feed the aquifers, which is not happening to that extent these days.

Other factors that are also being held responsible for drying up of the water falls and reduced water in the water sources is the indiscriminate felling of trees, reduction of tree cover with forests being diverted for other purposes, landslides and land slips, hydel power projects that are coming up in large numbers in the Himalayan region and cracks in the mountains.

It has been suggested that there is an urgent need to tackle the situation and preservation efforts should be taken up in a big way. Wherever possible check dams and check walls should be constructed so that the water can percolate down and recharge the aquifers and the areas around the water sources should be properly conserved.

A journalist with over 40 years of experience, Jagdish Bhatt is Editor Hill Post (Uttarakhand). Jagdish has worked with India's leading English dailies, which include Times of India, Indian Express, Pioneer and several other reputed publications. A highly acclaimed journalist, Jagdish is a recipient of many awards, latest being the 2011 Development Journalism Award. He lives in Dehra Dun.

1 Comment

  • Yes, we are all aware of the brewing Water Crisis across the Himalaya. Our knowledge of the issue varies, but what is intriguing is that such a critical matter (of life and death) does not elicit an intelligible response from politicians and ministers in particular. You do have CMs mouthing cliches on World Water Day and other such ‘Days’. The question that remains unanswered is why are we unable to do anything sensible about it?

    Even when a lot of money has been ‘spent’ in the past (like on Watershed schemes, Central and externally funded), there is little to show on the ground. Many excuses (very few valid reasons) will be proffered if you ask implementing government departments. The long and the short of this failure to hold on to water / rainfall is fundamental Governance Failure. Despite tall claims and false promises of ‘acchhe din’, basic, common sense administrative and financial reforms are not happening. Politicians refuse to put right people in the right place/ job and push their cronies, relatives, friends and sycophants. Contracts go to crooks and pradhans out to make a quick buck and so forth.

    As far as the impact of Climate Change on Himalayan Ecosystems is concerned it is indeed heartening to note that the concerned ministries have woken up now after 8 years when the National Mission on Sustaining Himalayan Ecosystems was notified in 2008! Not that anything is likely to happen in the foreseeable future because the babus and the red tape has grown, not lessened, as we have moved on the glorious path of Progress.

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