Traditional water sources have been water life line for most of villages in hill areas of Uttarakhand. Known as Panyar, Naula, Chhoi, Dhara these fresh water sources, springs have been serving rural population with potable and other domestic water requirements since time immemorial. We thought this is possibly an appropriate story on this World Environment Day 2020 on June 5 with appropriately fitting theme “Time for Nature”.[i]
Sadly, with changing time, lifestyle and introduction of tap water facilities these water sources and structures have been facing negligence of users and apathy of government. These time proven water sources can still serve the people if restored and taken proper care by village communities. The story of Pokhri village in Pouri Garhwal district in Uttarakhand is a step in this direction.
(Feature image by Nishant Panwar, Vikas Nagar, shows Yamuna River in upper reaches in Jan. 2019)
On April 11, 2019, is the birthday of Yamuna river. The Yamuna Jayanti comes every year on the sixth day of ‘Chaitra’ (summer) Navratra. The Kapat (door) of famous Yamnotri shrine would be opened this year on May 7 for Char Dham Yatra.
In April-May 2019 India will vote to elect 17th Lok Sabha or Parliament. On April 11, the 1st of the 7 polling days, the home state of Yamuna river, Uttrakhand and the districts of Western Uttar Pradesh through which Yamuna river flows, will vote.
The two other states heavily dependent and Yamuna river, Haryana and Delhi will see voting on May 12. The district Mathura, Agra, Etawa, Kanpur, Hamirpur, Fatehpur and Allahabad of Uttar Pradesh located along Yamuna river will witness voting from second (April 18) to sixth phase on May 12.
The NDA government come to power in May 2014 promising clean Ganga and Yamuna. The thousands of devotees of Mathura and residents of Agra were especially convinced of a promise of clean flowing Yamuna river. People were also hopeful that the government of the same party, BJP, in centre and in key basin states of Yamuna (Uttarakhand, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh) would bring a change in the situation. But over the five years, things have only deteriorated further. In fact, under the present government apart from dams and pollution a illegal sand mining has emerged as equally dangerous threat for the Yamuna rivers from upper reaches through middle and lower stretches.
On the occasion of Yamuna Jayanti, the Yamuna Nadi Mitra Mandli (YNMM) a voluntary group of villagers and concerned; established along the length of Yamuna by Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan is highlighting the issues affecting the Yamuna river and riparian communities which have remained unaddressed during past five years and none of the political parties even now have remotely focused on these. They also warn that ignoring the problems of Yamuna and dependent community will soon affect every state and dependent people in a significant way apart from endangering the river itself.
On Oct 28, 2015, the Andhra Pradesh governmentdeclared 196 mandalsin seven districts, as drought-affected during the Kharif season 2015. The districts were Srikakulam (10 mandals), Prakasam (21), Nellore (14), Chittoor (39), Kadapa (33), Anantapur (39) and Kurnool (40). Consequent to the declaration of drought, the government directed the concerned district Collectors to notify the specific drought-hit areas in the District Gazette to enable farmers to avail credit facilities. On Nov 22, 2015, the Govt. added 163 mandals to the list of drought hit bringing the number up to 359 mandals. This included mandals in Guntur, Krishna, Vizianagaram. Drought was declared in 10 out of 13 districts. Crop loan and relief measures were to be taken up in these mandals as per guidelines. The state demandedcentral assistance of Rs 2,000 crore.
The severe drought in Telangana has caused acute shortage of drinking water and worsened the agriculture crisis in the state.
On Nov 24, 2015, the Telangana government declared drought in 7 out of 10 districts. It declared 231 out of 443 rural mandals (blocks) in the State as drought-affected and sought an immediate assistance of Rs. 1000 crore from the Centre. All the mandals in Mahabubnagar (64), Medak (46) and Nizamabad (36) districts were declared drought-hit. Other mandals declared drought-hit included 33 out of 37 in Ranga Reddy, 19 of 57 in Karimnagar, 22 of 59 in Nalgonda, and 11 of 51 in Warangal. None of the mandals in Adilabad (52) and Khammam (41) districts were on the list.
Karnataka is witnessing drought for the third successive year; rainfall has been deficient since 2012-13. Because of the rainfall deficit, reservoirs did not fill up completely. Coupled with the hot summer temperatures in March and April 2016, the stored water has now almost depleted. Groundwater, the saviour in times of failure of rainfall, has dipped severely because of years of reckless exploitation for irrigating water guzzling crops in semi arid soils. With even drinking water becoming scarce, agricultural activity has come to a standstill in the region. The drought in 2015 was preceded by unseasonal rainsdamaging the previous harvest. The monsoon deficit led to a dip in kharif output throughout the State in 2015. The drought spread even to the normally lush Cauvery basin prompting digging and deepening of borewells. While southern Karnataka received some heavy rains in November, districts in Northern Karnataka again saw failure of rains with some districts such as Kalaburagi, Koppal and Yadgir registering over 70% deficiency in rainfall. There has been a near complete failure of crops in Northern Karnataka, with both rabi and kharif crops being wiped out, even as area under sugarcane has gone up! The northern region, which also lags in development indices, is in the clutches of rural distress – over a thousand farmers have committed suicide. Mass migration to cities is being witnessed.