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Water scarcity crisis looms large in J&K as water bodies dry up

Amid a prolonged dry spell, the water volume in the water bodies of the valley has dropped around 75% than normal, with river Jhelum

By Jahangir Sofi
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Water volume down by 75% than normal, Govt presses in water tankers in affected areas of valley

Amid a prolonged dry spell, the water volume in the water bodies of the valley has dropped around 75% than normal, with river Jhelum’s gauge level at Sangam station recording as low as 0.03Ft on Thursday morning.

Chief Engineer at Irrigation and Flood Control (IF&C) department for Kashmir told Ground Report that the water level across all the water bodies in the valley has significantly gone down, saying that monsoonal activities were expected to start from this weekend in northern India which can end the dry spell in Kashmir valley.

“The water level has dropped significantly due to the dry spell, Jhelum’s shores have become visible, and even at some places, dry patches are visible. I hope this dry spell ends soon”, he said.

A senior official at I&FC said that river Jhelum is the most affected water body due to the dry spell, saying a similar situation was witnessed in the year 2021.

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Kashmir's Water Resources Dwindle by 75%. Photo Credit: Jahangir Sofi/Ground Report

The officer said that they are fortunate enough that the majority of the agricultural activities which mainly include paddy cultivation were over but that they faced problems with the lift schemes as the water volume was low.

“If this dry spell would have been earlier, then surely there would have been a problem, but we are fortunate that our major agricultural activities for this season are over”, the officer said.

It is pertinent to note that once the abundant and flourishing water bodies in the region have partially dried up and that has left the local population in a state of perplexity and despair as that has invited water scarcity in the region.

Melting Glaciers and Reduced Snowfall

Nestled in the Himalayan Mountainous range, Kashmir heavily relies on precipitation as its primary water source. However, recent years have witnessed a significant decline in rainfall patterns, leading to a prolonged dry spell. This precipitation deficit has resulted in a scarcity of water resources, leaving the region's water bodies gasping for moisture.

The melting of glaciers and reduced snowfall in the Himalayas have also contributed to the water scarcity crisis in Kashmir. These natural water reservoirs, which were once abundant and replenishing, have experienced a rapid decline in their water content. The reduction in snowfall during the winter season further exacerbates the situation, as it replenishes the region's water bodies during the warmer months.

Drinking Water Shortages

The scarcity of water in Kashmir is taking a toll on the availability of clean drinking water. As water bodies dry up and groundwater levels plummet, the local population has become vulnerable to various waterborne diseases. 

The Chief Engineer for the Public Health Engineering (PHE) Department for Kashmir said to Ground Report that they are not witnessing any major crisis. However, they mentioned that the prolonged dry spell has affected the water supply, and they have deployed around 95 water tankers across the valley.

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River Jhelum most affected by dry spell in Jammu and Kashmir. Photo Credit: Jahangir Sofi/Ground Report

“There is a shortfall of around 15 million Gallion Daily (MGD), and due to this dry spell, all our fleet is on toes to supply clean drinking water to the areas affected due to the dry spell”, he said. 

The drying up of water bodies in Kashmir too has resulted in an ecological imbalance by disrupting the delicate ecosystems, while the flora and fauna dependent on these water sources face the risk of extinction. The dry spell and water scarcity crisis in Kashmir has caused immense distress to the local population.

Soaring Mercury, No Rains 

As the concern among the population in the region is brewing, the officials at the PHE say that only rains can bring respite which can end this ongoing dry hot weather spell and charge up the water bodies, saying that can ensure adequate water supply in the region.

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Water bodies in Jammu and Kashmir partially dried up, local population faces water scarcity. Photo Credit: Jahangir Sofi/Ground Report

Notably, Srinagar on Tuesday this week recorded the season’s second-highest day temperature during the last 132 years.

According to the MeT officials, Srinagar recorded a maximum temperature of 34.2°C, which was 6.0°C above normal. They have never recorded the 2nd highest maximum temperature in September since 1891.

The MeT officials added that it has broken the 53-year-old record of 33.8°C recorded on 01 September 1970.” 

Featured Image Credit: Umar Farooq

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