NATIONAL

Water crisis looms large in Himalayan regions, study finds

Disappearing fast:Degradation of natural waterbodies is evident across the region, the report states.FIle photo

Disappearing fast:Degradation of natural waterbodies is evident across the region, the report states.FIle photo  

Report flags rising dependenceon springs

Eight towns in the Himalayan region of Bangladesh, Nepal, India and Pakistan were nearly 20%-70% deficient in their water supply, says a survey that appears in the latest edition of the journal Water Policy .

The researchers surveyed 13 towns across these countries to understand the challenges of the urban denizens of these regions. Unplanned urbanisation and climate change are the key factors responsible for the state of affairs, the study underlines.

Short-term strategies

The places surveyed are extremely dependent on springs (ranging between 50% and 100%) for their water, and three-fourths were in urban areas. Under current trends, the demand-supply gap may double by 2050, the researchers warn.

“Communities were coping through short-term strategies such as groundwater extraction, which is proving to be unsustainable. A holistic water management approach that includes springshed management and planned adaptation is therefore paramount,” Dr. Anjal Prakash of the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad, India, said in a statement.

“Across the region, the encroachment and degradation of natural waterbodies (springs, ponds, lakes, canals, and rivers) and the growing disappearance of traditional water systems (stone spouts, wells, and local water tanks) are evident,” an accompanying press note underlines.

Although only 3% of the total Hindu Kush Himalayan population lives in larger cities and 8% in smaller towns, projections show that over 50% of the population will be living in cities by 2050, placing “tremendous stress” on water availability.

Rural areas have typically garnered much of the attention in terms of development and issues surrounding urban environments have been “sidelined”, the authors note.

Recommended for you