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DEVELOPMENT AND UTILIZATION OF WATER RESOURCE FOR SUSTAINABILITY IN MOUNTAINOUS REGIONS OF INDIA

Congress: 2008
Author(s):
Anil Kumar Professor Dept. of Soil & Water Conservation Engineering G.B.Pant University Pantnagar 263145 Uttarakhand (INDIA)
AbstractWater is one of the most vital natural resources for sustaining all forms of life on the planet Earth. The inhabitants of mountainous regions of India have been facing continued problem of non- availability of safe and sufficient water to fulfill their basic needs of drinking, cooking, sanitation and irrigation. Most of the people in mountainous regions depend on agriculture (largely rainfed) for their livelihood but various climatic, topographic and socio-economic constraints lead to a low agricultural productivity. The only water sources available at their disposal are: (a) the runoff from rainstorms flowing overland and through roof-top of houses; and (b) the free-flowing natural water-springs. Since generations, the inhabitants of this region have been depending on the natural water-springs for meeting their daily water needs for drinking and domestic uses, sanitation, irrigation, animal consumption etc. During the recent past, most of the perennial water-springs and streamlets have either become seasonal or dried-up completely for want of recharge due to various natural and man-made hazards. The women have to walk several kilometers daily to fetch a head-load of water for drinking and domestic uses. Keeping in mind the Millennium Development Goals for water to ensure and sustain the survival and economic development of a large population in mountains of India, the policy makers, scientists, resource managers and consumers have to put concerted efforts at the earliest opportunity. Keeping the above points in mind, the most appropriate strategy to develop water resources in this region is to harvest (in-situ and ex-situ) the water available in all forms viz. overland runoff, runoff through roof-tops of houses, and the discharge from free-flowing natural water-springs. The field studies, conducted at about 2000 m above mean sea level, have revealed that the construction of a brick-lined cemented tank to store spring-water for drinking purpose, in combination with dug-out farm ponds lined with 0.25 mm thick Low Density Poly-Ethylene (LDPE) sheet to collect the overflow from this tank and the runoff from overland and roof-tops, is a technically feasible and economically viable option to mitigate the crucial problems of drinking water and to enhance the irrigation potential in the region. Based on the flow data of past years, the mean monthly rate of flow of two perennial water springs, namely Hill-Campus spring and Fakua Spring varied from 7.1 to 25.76 m3/day and 4.83 to 95.45 m3/day, respectively. The minimum required storage was computed for both the water springs to meet the water demands of the inhabitants for the purpose of drinking, personal hygiene and domestic use, irrigation etc. Also, the relationship was developed between the water-demands and the storage required. The results indicate that even the low flows from springs can provide a huge storage volume for the people. The cost of construction of LDPE lined dug-out pond is Rupees 150 (≈ USD 3) per m3 storage of water, while that of brick-cemented tank is about Rupees 900 (≈ USD 20) per m3 of stored water.
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