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Feb 13, 2018 06:03 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

NITI Aayog says mountain springs in the Himalayas are drying up

More than half of the 3 million springs have dried up in the Indian Himalayan region, home to 50 million people who rely on them.

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Government think tank Niti Aayog has said that the Indian Himalayan region is facing a dire situation concerning its spring water distribution.

A report, compiled by a NITI Aayog Working Group titled “Inventory and revival of springs in Himalayas for water security” stated that “more than half of the perennial springs have already dried up or have become seasonal and tens of thousands of villages are currently facing acute water shortage for drinking and other domestic purposes”.

Of the 5 million springs in the country, close to 3 million of them are located in the Indian Himalayan region. There are 50 million people living in that region, many of who rely on spring water for their daily drinking water needs.

The report states that “Nearly 60 percent of low-discharge springs that provided water to small habitations in the Himalayan region have reported clear decline during the last couple of decades. A continued crisis will consequently affect lives of millions of people in the mountains.”

The mountainous regions of Uttarakhand are spring-based, while all the villages of Meghalaya use springs for drinking and/or irrigation.

The state of Sikkim has seen the most alarming drop in the collection of spring water.

“Water production has declined in half of all springs in the state—a dangerous sign that aquifers are depleting in a state which is almost entirely dependent on springs for drinking water,” the report said.

Factors such as an increase in the demand for water, ecological degradation and a changing land use pattern caused the springs to dry up.

This stark drop has been seen in Uttarakhand, where the Almora region saw a fall from 360 functional springs to just 60 in the past 150 years.

The depletion in the spring water levels is not only detrimental the lives of the citizens living in the region, but also wildlife .

“Depletion has meant disturbances in the water security inside forests and national parks and their fringe areas as well. The problem, therefore, transcends the entire spectrum of dependents and dependencies, from rural and urban water to forests and wildlife,” the report said.

The report suggests a short term (4 years), medium-term (4-8 years) and long term (more than 8 years) plan to manage the depletion. This includes active monitoring of spring water levels in depleted regions and the carrying out of spring-shed management.
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