Water Crisis Hits Kashmir
We are hardly able to manage supplies: Official
The Kashmir Valley is facing an unprecedented water crisis, with more than 700 water schemes badly hit because of the ongoing dry spell.
The depleting water resources have severely impacted life in rural Kashmir, particularly north of the Valley, and the department has now pressed into service tankers at many places to supply drinking water.
“Our water resources are at the lowest. It is a drought-like situation and we are hardly able to manage the supplies in Srinagar and other places,” said a senior official in the public health engineering department.
Admitting that villages in northern areas of Kashmir and some parts in the central areas have been badly hit, the official said that of 1690 water supply schemes, more than 700 schemes have been affected by the water scarcity.
Struggling to meet the demand, the department has now worked out a curtailment schedule as the water crisis continues to deepen.
In Kashmir, the dry spell has been continuing for the past nearly five months. Since September 10, Kashmir has received only 10mm of rainfall. The normal rainfall between September and December is 100mm.
This scanty rainfall caused Jhelum river, the lifeline of Kashmir, to reportedly dip to its lowest level of less than one foot at Sangam gauge last month, the lowest in its recorded history.
The Jhelum, which originates in Anantnag, and runs through Srinagar and various northern areas, covering around 200 kms, is a major source of drinking water and irrigation.
Met department officials recently told Greater Kashmir that analysis of weather data of the past decade shows that dry spells are emerging as a trend. Officials are therefore focussing on setting up tube wells to tap underground water resources for meeting the demand.
Another reason for the present water crisis is the long delay in completion of government of India-funded water schemes. Under the National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP), the previous UPA-led Congress government had approved more than 2511 schemes, 934 schemes for Kashmir and 1566 schemes for Jammu, to ensure regular supply of drinking water to people.
But till date only 232 schemes have been completed. An official, however, said the union government has cut down the funding under the program and directed the state government to first complete the already taken up schemes before fresh further money can be released.
“This has led to the delay in completion of the program,” said another official.
Chief engineer public health engineering department Kashmir Abdul Wahid said that the long dry spell has affected the water sources, including the springs and underground water table.
“We are exploring new sources of water and have put into service around 102 tankers to tide over the problem,” said Wahid.