Skip to main content

Indiscriminate mining, hydro projects 'drying up' water sources in Himachal Pradesh

By Bharat Dogra* 

While the pipeline network has been expanding in Himachal Pradesh as a result of the emphasis placed on speeding up drinking water supply, drinking water scarcity from an increasing number of sources is being reported. One basic reason for this is that a significant number of natural water sources, including rivers, streams and khuds, are depleting due to a number of factors, including excessive mining.
At the time of a recent visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Dharamsala, several representatives of environment groups in Kangra region who have been working on protection of water sources got together on June 16 to issue an appeal to him to save the rivers and streams of this region from mining.
They told media representatives that during a visit three years back the Prime Minister had promised that this ecologically crucial Himalayan state and its water sources will soon be freed from the ravages of the mining mafia. However, the environmentalists pointed out, the mining mafia has continued to flourish, and the tragic result is that several rivers and khuds have been seriously harmed by indiscriminate mining using heavy machinery.
The Neugal river which is of crucial importance for a very large number of villages of Palampur has been very badly affected and as the river is closely related to important drinking water schemes of the region this will affect the drinking water supply very adversely.
In addition, Beas, Baner, Mandh and Binwa rivers and Mol Khud have also been adversely affected, the environmentalists pointed out, and this too will adversely affect drinking water supply.
Even before the warning was sounded, there have been several reports of indiscriminate mining from not just the Kangra region but from all over the state. Several water springs have become depleted or even vanished. In addition, there have been several reports of water pollution and at times there have even before problems in identifying source of water pollution.
State policy aims at increasing number of tourist, but what will happen if there is extreme scarcity of water?
Diversion of water of rivers for hydro electricity projects into tunnels has also raised the issue of water scarcity in villages located along the earlier natural path of rivers. In the course of construction and widening of highways a very large number of trees have been cut and water sources have been disturbed. Construction rubble has sometimes found its way into water sources.
In recent times severe water scarcity has been reported not just from remote villages but even from leading cities like Shimla and Solan. This has also raised the issue of finding water for the excessive needs of ever-increasing hotels. In some places local panchayats have reported big hotels located near them have been illegally extracting excessive groundwater leading to scarcity in the water sources meant for villagers.
The state policy is aimed at increasing the number of tourist but what will happen if there is extreme scarcity of a basic need like water for local people at the same time as more tourists are pouring in. 
Such a dilemma was in fact seen very recently seen in Shimla and such cases may be seen more often in future as warming trends are further aggravated. Already during this summer many people here were complaining that they had never experienced such hot weather before.
Hence, the recent focus on drinking water schemes should have a wider orientation of protecting water sources and also ensuring some restraint on demand side also, giving adequate importance to the needs of common local people, particularly villagers who should not be denied their basic water needs in the rush for tourism.
---
*Honorary convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now; recent books include ‘A Day In 2071’, ‘Planet in Peril' and ‘Protecting Earth for Children'

Comments

TRENDING

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Don't agree on domestic subsidies, ensure food security at WTO meet: Farmer leaders

Counterview Desk  The Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements (ICCFM), a top network of farmers’ organizations in India, in a letter to Piyush Goyal, Minister of Commerce and Industry, has asked him to “safeguard food security and sovereignty, even as ensuring peasants' rights" at the 13th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO MC 13), to take place from 26 to 29 February 2024 in Abu Dhabi.

Sharp 61-85% fall in Tech startup funding in India's top 'business-friendly' States

By Rajiv Shah Funding in Tech startups in top business-friendly Indian states has witnessed a major fall, a data intelligence platform for private market research has said in a series of reports it has released this month. Analysing Tech startup data of Telangana, Maharashtra, Delhi NCR, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala, Tracxn Technologies Ltd , the Bengaluru-based research firm, finds that except for Kerala, funding witnessed a fall of anywhere between 61% and 85%.

Students, lawyers, professors detained in Delhi for demonstrating in support of farmers

By Our Representative  About 25 protestors, belonging to the civil rights network, Campaign Against State Repression (CASR), a coalition of over 40 organisations, were detained at Jantar Mantar for holding a demonstration in support of the farmers' stir on Friday. Those detained included students, lawyers and professors, including Prof Nandita Narain and Prof N Sachin. 

Maize, bajra, jute, banana cultivation banned off West Bengal border: Plea to NHRC

Counterview Desk  West Bengal-based human rights defender Kirity Roy, who is secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Manch, and is national convenor of the Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity, in a representation to the chairman, National Human Rights Commission, second within few days, has bought to light one more case of trespassing and destruction of a fertile banana plantation by BSF personnel along the Indo-Bangladesh border, stating, despite a written complaint to the police has taken "no initiative".

Solar energy funding dips 9% in 2023; 2024 'kicks off' with US$1 billion investment

By Lakshmitha Raj*  Solar energy tech companies have already secured slightly over US$1 billion in funding in 2024 (till Feb 7, 2024) after total funding into Solar Energy companies in India fell 9% to US$1.55B in 2023 from US$1.7B in 2022. A total of 39 $100M+ rounds have been closed till date, with Delhi leading the city-wise funding, followed by Gurugram and Mumbai.

India second best place to invest, next to UAE, yet there is 'lacks support' for IT services

By Sreevas Sahasranamam, Aileen Ionescu-Somers*  The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the best place in the world to start a new business, according to the latest annual Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) survey. The Arab nation is number one for the third year in a row thanks to a big push by the government into cutting-edge technology in its efforts to diversify away from oil.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Mahanadi delta: Aggressive construction in flood plains, reduced fish stock, pollution

By Sudhansu R Das  Frequent natural calamities, unemployment, low farmers’ income, increase in crime rate and lack of quality human resources to strike a balance between growth and environment etc. continue to haunt the state. The state should delve into the root causes of poverty, unemployment and natural calamities.