Water Security and Climate Resilient Future for IHR

12th December, 2020 | 3:00 PM - 4:30 PM

Background

The Himalayan ranges harbour not only a rich array of flora and fauna, but also represent  one of the most diverse morpho-geological regions of the world. The world’s youngest mountain system provides numerous ecosystem services to over 50 million people within this region and many more in the downstream areas. Most of India's northern river systems originate in the Himalaya. It is perhaps for this reason that the Himalaya is called ‘the water tower of the world’. Three large river systems have their source in the Himalayan region. It is not surprising  therefore, to find that the focus on Himalayan waters has been and continues to be on glaciers, snow-melt and river flows.

Groundwater, particularly in the form of springs, has remained only in the background of larger discourses on water in the region for long periods of time. Mountain springs are the primary source of water for the rural households in the Himalayan region, whilst for many people springs are the sole source of water.  Uttarakhand state is getting around 94% of rural drinking water from spring fed water systems. As per the estimate by NITI Ayog, there are 5 million springs across India, out of which nearly 3 million are in the Indian Himalayan Region (IHR). Despite this fact, springs are facing the threat of getting dried up. Spring discharge is declining due to various reasons, a few are: land use change, ecological degradation, Climate Change induced rising temperature, rising rainfall intensity, reduction in temporal spread and decline in winter rain. Moreover, urbanization has pulled people from rural areas in the himalayan region into nearby urban centres. Projections show that urban population in the mountain cities will tremendously increase by 2050. This will naturally place enormous stress on the already existing pressures on water resources. Whilst, there is a progressive increase in demand of water, as per revised guideline of Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM), Government of India has decided to provide Functional Household Tap Connection (FHTC) to every household by 2024, and revised service delivery level has been proposed from 40 lpcd (liter per capita per day) to 55 lpcd for rural households.

It is therefore evident that increasing urbanization and climate change are two critical stressors that are adversely affecting the biophysical environment of the urban Himalaya. With development plans and policies focusing more on rural areas, issues surrounding urban environments have been side-lined. Therefore, it is important to look at water security in a more scientific and comprehensive manner.

The proposed session will highlight water associated challenges in the IHR region through climate change, forest, environment, water security and livelihoods. A few efforts made to address the challenges will also be discussed during the presentation.

The key themes to be covered in the session are:

  • The state of water security in IHR
  • Upscaling springshed development in IHR
  • Peri Urban Water Governance Issues and Management in Indian Himalayan Region
  • Scope of technology based solutions for water security