Focus: GS-III Environment and Ecology

Why in news?

  • Eight towns in the Himalayan region of Bangladesh, Nepal, India and Pakistan were nearly 20%-70% deficient in their water supply, says a survey.
  • Unplanned urbanisation and climate change are the key factors responsible for the state of affairs.

Dependence on Springs

  • The places surveyed are extremely dependent on springs (ranging between 50% and 100%) for their water, and three-fourths were in urban areas.
  • Under current trends, the demand supply gap may double by 2050.

Issues that need to be addressed

  • Communities were coping through short-term strategies such as groundwater extraction, which is proving to be unsustainable.
  • Across the region, the encroachment and degradation of natural waterbodies (springs, ponds, lakes, canals, and rivers) and the growing disappearance of traditional water systems (stone spouts, wells, and local water tanks) are evident.
  • Although only 3% of the total Hindu Kush Himalayan population lives in larger cities and 8% in smaller towns, projections show that over 50% of the population will be living in cities by 2050, placing “tremendous stress” on water availability.

Way Forward

  • A holistic water management approach that includes springshed management and planned adaptation is therefore paramount.
  • Lessons can also be drawn from the work of Sankalpa Rural Development Society (SRDS) which has been training farmers of Karnataka on revival of defunct borewells.
  • Spring rejuvenation calls for mapping of the springshed, identification of recharge areas, pinpointing sites for appropriate recharge structures, construction of recharge structures through convergence of activities under MGNREGS, PMKSY-WDC and related Schemes of State Governments.
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