Rejuvenate Arunachal springs to solve drinking water problem: Expert

ITANAGAR, 5 Jul: An expert in spring shed management programme (SMP) is advocating rejuvenation of springs in Arunachal Pradesh to solve the drinking water problem in the rural and far-flung areas of the northeastern state.

Quoting a 2018 report by the NITI Aayog, Sunesh Sharma, head of Tata Trusts for the Northeast, said that about 50 percent of the total mountain springs of the Himalayan region, including Arunachal, are drying up, while about 60 percent of the local people depend on springs for meeting their water requirement.

Springs are a point from where water flows out of aquifers to the earth’s surface.

Though the Himalayan state is crisscrossed by several perennial rivers, supply of drinking water is a major problem for its inhabitants, with more than 90 percent of water supply in the rural areas driven through spring-fed systems, he said.

Calling for a holistic approach, involving different government and NGO partners, to assess the degree of drying up of natural springs, Sharma said that awareness should be generated on the importance of groundwater recharge to rejuvenate the springs and build local capacities to develop spring sheds across the state.

“A scientific-based approach, involving the community, should be developed to manage natural springs in the state and the state government needs to consider the importance of SMP for biodiversity,” he said.

Aiming at SMP, the state government had announced the Pakke Declaration on Climate Change Resilient and Responsive Arunachal Pradesh, which was adopted by the cabinet last year.

“Drying up of mountain springs is due to the catastrophic effect of climate change and the situation has worsened, leading to a water crisis in an estimated 285 of total 593 blocks of the Himalayan region,” Sharma said, quoting a survey report.

The expert, working for spring shed management for the last 15 years, had conducted a successful action research pilot project on SMP in a water-scarce area of Sirmour district in Himachal Pradesh from 2011 to 2014.

The union jal shakti ministry has included SMP as a key component under the Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM), benefiting residents of hilly regions of the country on a sustainable basis, he said. (PTI)