B.D. Kasniyal | The Tribune | Aug 11, 2015

Urbanisation, rampant felling of trees to blame for the depletion

 Over 1,500 billion cusecs of water flow has reduced in the Ganga catchment area of Himalaya due to falling of trees and destruction of other vegetation areas to make way for urbanisation and road construction in the Himalayan region. It has been revealed in a study done jointly by Australian National University of Canberra and Kumaon University, Nainital.

Revealing the details of the study, member of study team from Kumaon university Professor PC Tiwari said due to high encroachment rate into the water zone of Himalaya, over 45 per cent natural water sources from Kumaon region, 39 per cent from Garhwal region, 47 per cent from Yamuna catchment area and 37 per cent of Byans catchment area in Himachal and 37 per cent natural water resources of Teesta river catchment area of Sikkim have be depleted in the last decades. “It has resulted in alarming water crisis in the country as over 40 per cent drinking water supply to the country is done from the Ganga and its tributaries,” said Professor Tiwari.

According to Kumaon university professor while 15 per cent agricultural productivity and means of livelihood have been reduced due to the reduction of water in Himalayan region, over 20 per cent irrigated land have also been finished due to this effect in the last decades. “Our study reveals that over five km water flow in Kumaon, 6.5 km in Garhwal region 7 km flow in Himachal Pradesh rivers is reducing every year due to this effect,” said the Kumaon university professor. The study has also mentioned another alarming effect that due to wastage of 65 per cent rainwater every year in Himalayan region, the region is slowing converting into arid zone and inviting landslides, cloudbursts and flash flood like disasters repeatedly. “The flow of water in tributaries of Yamuna river in Himachal Pradesh, Gagas, Dabka and Kosi rivers of Uttarakhand and Teesta river in Sikkim is reducing continuously,” Dr Tiwari said.

The study has also quoted 2015 report of intergovernmental panel for climate change to assert that if the reduction in water sources continues, the food productivity in this region will witness 30 percent reduction which will ultimately affect the programmes of poverty elimination, women empowerment and other developmental projects of Himalayan region. “ The need of the hour is to conserve 65 per cent rain water that goes waste due to lack of schemes and is causing tendency of increased aridness in fertile land of Himalayan region, “ said the Kumaon university professor.

 Original Article in The Tribune

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