With 62% rain deficit, Himachal heads for water crisis
Shimla: Met with a high rain deficit, approximately 62 per cent, and drying-up of the perennial water sources due to less snowfall, Himachal Pradesh is heading for an unprecedented water crisis in the coming months, beginning from April–May.
More than 350 lift supply schemes of the state's Irrigation and Public Health (IPH) department have already become defunct due to non-availability of the water and almost double this number are expected to turn non-functional soon, the officials admit.
Most of the rivers and tributaries, where the drinking water supply schemes are located, have witnessed the depletion of the water flow. There is no snow on the mountains feeding the water sources in the state.
The majestic Dhauladhar ranges in Kangra hardly have any snow cover or glaciers left to feed the perennial water streams downhill. This has resulted in the drying-up of traditional water channels –Kuhls in the Kangra region.
Reports say the farmers in districts of Kangra, Mandi , Hamirpur and Bilaspur have lost hope to get rabi crops harvested in absence of rains or availability of irrigation water.
"The farmers have started cutting down the wheat to use it as fodder for the animals. There is not a drop of rain in Bilaspur for the past nine months. It's a famine-like situation, which I have never seen in past five decades" says I D Bhandari, retired IPS officer and a native of Bilaspur.
State's Jal Shakti Minister Mahender Singh Thakur has already announced in the state assembly that Himachal Pradesh is going to face an acute drinking water crisis, and crops may also get hit by the famine.
"We are working on a master plan to link-up functional water supply schemes so that the people are provided drinking water during the peak summers. We may have to use water tankers but I have told the engineers to ensure that expenditure on linking –up of the schemes will be more productive for the future than one time cost" Thakur said.
He recalls having taken an aerial survey of some areas, particularly Mandi, Hamirpur and Kangra and realised that water discharge in most of the natural water sources, streams and khads has come down to just five to 10 per cent.
In Shimla, the Indian Meteorological Department released data on the rainfalls, which causes further scare in rural Himachal Pradesh.
The state received only 41.7 mm rains against normal 110.9 mm during the month of March 2021. It is almost 62 per cent less than normal precipitation.
Seven districts in Himachal Pradesh were largely 60 to 99 per cent deficient and five others were deficient by 20 to 59 per cent.
Kangra district was most drought-hit with 84 per cent deficient rain. It recorded only 13.2 mm against normal 80.9 mm, Hamirpur 79 per cent deficient and Sirmaur 77 per cent.