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Thirsty hills

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SCARCE COMMODITY : In Pokhri.
SCARCE COMMODITY : In Pokhri.

COMPILED BY NIMI KURIAN

In Pauri Garhwal the villagers wake up early. They have to queue up for the rationed two buckets of water from the three public taps. And when they have all collected their mandatory two buckets, the taps are ‘locked up'. This is a fairly common story in the parched Himalayas, often called the “Water Tower” or even the Third Pole of the world, because these mountains contain the largest store of freshwater in the world after the north and south poles. Spring water, the main source of water in the hills, is drying up. One innovative effort is the result of an unlikely collaboration between villagers of Nagrasu, in Rudraprayag district, and nuclear scientists of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (Barc). Using isotope analysis, the scientists traced water flows inside the mountain. This helped locate the areas from where water starts percolating into the ground to finally reappear at the spring. Water conservation structures were built on these areas so that the water doesn't flow off but gets absorbed into the ground.

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