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Amidst  forest fires,Uttarakhand facing acute drinking water crisis

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Amidst  forest fires,Uttarakhand facing acute drinking water crisis

B.D. Kasniyal

Pithoragarh, May 3

With the advent of summers the Uttarakhand hills are facing the twin problems of forest fires and acute drinking water scarcity in the villages of Uttarakhand due to drying up of natural water sources following no rains during past winter and least rains during the ongoing summer months this year.

Interestingly, the people of the state which boast of having major rivers namely Ganga , Yamuna and Sharda flowing through it with hundred of its’ tributaries, are still deprived of clean drinking water 24 years after the formation of the state which was formed supposedly for the overall welfare of the local people.

According to Chief General Manager of Jal Sansthan, Dehradun, the state government body which looks after supply of water supply over 218 colonies and villages helmets have witnessed acute drinking water crisis at the beginning of this summer.

“Due to reduced water flow in natural sources due to hot weather conditions and increasing demand of drinking water, the drinking water crisis is looming large in the state, we are trying to fetch water by tankers or recharging tubewell by using generators where there is power crisis,” said Neelima garg, CGM of Uttarakhand Jal Sansthan, Dehradun

After Dehradun where over 65 localities have been badly affected by drinking water crisis, the districts of Nainital, Almora and Pithoragarh in Kumoan region are worst hit by drinking water crisis at beginning of this  summer.” Whereas Nainital has 17 localities facing drinking water crisis, there are 13 and 8 localities respectively in Almora and Pithoragarh where there is acute shortage of drinking water,” said the Jal Sansthan officer.

According to irrigation department sources in Nainital, the water level of Naini lake has reached at its lowest level after 2021 as the town witnessed rains of mere 4 mm in April this year against an average April rainfall of 20 mm in the town.

“After the water level of Lake has reduced at 2.1 feet in the first week of May, against 6 feet average generally, we have asked Jal Sansthan officers to control pumping to help lake the lake to survive, ” said D.D. Sati, an assistant engineer of irrigation department.

According to officials of Jal Sansthan, Almora, over 1.7 lakh residents of Almora town and  7.00 lakh population of Almora district are facing acute drinking water crisis as over 85 natural sources have gone dry this season .”The Almora town that had over 300 natural sources or ‘Bawris’ during British era was  left with 150 such sources at the time of independence in 1947 but  today the town has  only a few natural sources that too have been heavily polluted,” said Shekhar Dwivedi, a journalist based in Almora.

According to Dwivedi, the lone drinking water source of Almora is Kosi river scheme that is fetching water on alternate day due to less water in the river.

According to local residents in Pithoragarh, almost all 20 wards of Pithoragarh town are facing drinking water crisis as despite 4 drinking water schemes of 17 MLD total, not even a single scheme is working to it’s full capacity.

“We are getting water on alternate days despite assurances that after start of Awalaghat water lift scheme,the water crisis in the town would be over, “said Neema, a resident of Pithoragarh town.

According to Jal sansthan sources in Champawat, due to lake of rains in April and at beginning of May this year, the water flow in natural sources has reduced by 90 percent.”Due to reduced water flow in all 12 natural sources surrounding Champawat town, we are supplying drinking water by tankers,” said Hemant Phulara, an engineer with Jal Sansthan, Champawat.

A delegation of the Uttarakhand Congress led by it’s Senior Vice-President Suryakant Dhasmana ghereoed the office of Chief general manager, Jal Sansthan, Dehradun and apprised the officials about the acute drinking water crisis being faced by the people of the state particularly in the capital city of Dehradun. Neelima Garg, CGM, Jal Sansthan assured that every effort is being made to provide drinking water to every locality and a large number of water tankers have been pressed into service to provide drinking water to the parched areas.

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