Himachal PradeshNorth India

Priceless springs are dying in Himachal Pradesh because of climate change and human activity

Affects of climate change has already been observed in the changing weather patterns.

According to a directory on water resources, two in three springs in Himachal are going to dry soon.

Once almost 500 people were living in Mundaghat village in 2010 but now, unfortunately, the number is reduced to 250 and the cause of this springs dying in Himachal Pradesh. All in all, the population has decreased to half in the last decade.

Many people of Himachal Pradesh have already started to migrate from villages to cities. Even the elderly population of Himachal Pradesh do not want their children and family to stay back. They want their younger ones to study in cities and settle there.

According to Devi, a local of the state, agriculture, their main source of income is fading away due to springs dying and unavailability of water.  “Forget water for agriculture, we have to bring drinking water by walking 5 km-7 km sometimes,” she explained. “All our springs have dried up. Decrease in rainfall and snowfall has led to water scarcity. There is no future for our children here.”

According to a recent survey conducted by IIT, Mandi (one of the top universities in India ) 95 % of farmers in Kullu reported insufficient water to irrigate crops. Also, it’s a fact that 90% of the population in Himachal rely on Agriculture as their main source of income.

Disappearing water sources

Manshi Asher, co-founder, Himdhara Collective, said, “Springs are one of the major sources of water in mountainous regions.”

“The people, especially in rural areas, rely on these traditional water sources for drinking and irrigation,” Asher said. “But now, more than 70% of springs are dead and others have become seasonal, which has resulted in an acute water shortage in Himachal villages.”

It has been estimated that half of the screens in the Himalayan region have already dried up. Also, there is increasing evidence that springs are drying throughout the Indian Himalayan region. This conclusion was made by Niti Aayog, which is considered the government’s think tank.

There are almost 10,512 traditional water sources in Himachal villages, claimed by the Directory of water resources. But only 30.41% of sources are recharging properly, the rest will probably go dry soon.

Climate change and massive human interference like big infrastructure projects and deforestation are responsible for springs dying in the state.

According to the Hindu Kush Himalayan Monitoring and Assessment Programme report of the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development, mountain springs play an important hydrological role in generating streamflow for non-glaciated catchments and in maintaining winter and dry-season flows across numerous Hindu Kush Himalaya basins.

“Springs are the primary water source for rural households in the Hindu Kush Himalaya. In the Indian Himalayas, 64% of irrigated areas are fed by springs. Due to factors related to anthropogenic impacts such as deforestation, grazing, exploitative land use resulting in soil erosion and climate change, springs fed during the monsoon by groundwater or underground aquifers are reported to be drying up and threatening whole ways of life for local communities in most parts of the mid-hills of the region,” the report also added.

So basically, the large-scale construction is taking over the stream bed. And the more space it takes, the more springs will die. So, climate change is only one of the reasons but not the whole story.

Climate change impact

Also, some time back gentle rain used to keep falling for some weeks, this ensured that the springs are getting recharged. But now the intensity of the rain has increased and it gets flooded at once. The water moved rapidly. This is also one of the major reasons why springs are dying.

“Now there is either flood in the monsoon or drought in the entire year,” “My apple and cauliflower crops get damaged every year. The snowfall has also decreased from 5 feet to 2 feet. Snowfall days are also reduced.” Said Bhoop Singh, a farmer from Shimla.

According to IMD, In the past three decades, the average annual rainfall in Himachal has not changed but when we talk about the average frequency of rainy and snowfall days, we can notice a significant decrease. We can also see increased dry days due to climate change.

Pratik Kumar, Coordinator of Revitalising Rainfed Agriculture Network in Himachal Pradesh, said, “The rainwater finds its way to underground caves called aquifers in which water gets stored.”

“An aquifer has a recharge area where water can seep into the ground and refill it,” Kumar said. “Springs are created when holes are created in the aquifer and water comes out which forms the spring run.”

Prolonged dry spells, due to climate change, gave only a limited time for water to percolate into the aquifers, he explained. This has led to high runoff, little recharge, and springs dying.

https://scroll.in/article/1011338/in-himachal-pradesh-precious-springs-are-dying-because-of-climate-change-and-human-activity

 

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