Women may be spared of the trouble of trekking miles together carrying water pitchers on their head in the Himalayas, hit by acute drinking water shortage, as scientists of Bhabha Atomic Research Centre have successfully recharged 13 dried springs in Rudraprayag district of Uttaranchal.
The application of isotope geochemical technique to identify the source and route of the water spring was based on the variability of isotope content of the water due to various factors like climate, season, altitude and distance, said Dr Gursharan Singh, head of the three-member team of BARC, which worked for nearly three years to find the source, origin, route and recharge zone of the spring.
Once the origin and route was traced, scientists then advised to build tanks and bunds around the various points so that water should not go waste and instead start percolating within the earth.
Once this happened, the spring again recharged at the village downstream. And now, the water discharge in the drying spring has risen by two to three times.
Dr R Chidambaram, Principal Scientific Advisor to Union Government who himself went to Gwarchauki area of Rudraprayag district last week to see the success story scripted by BARC scientists and volunteers of HESCO, a Dehra Dun-based NGO, expressed happiness over the project.
He said the government would provide all possible help in carrying out other projects related to drinking water in the hills.
"This is a significant development as scientists have been able to recharge an almost dried spring in Garhwal Himalayas," said Dr Anil P Joshi, head of HESCO, which provided logistic support to the scientists.
Joshi, who was given this year's Jamnalal Bajaj award for his outstanding work in the Himalayan region, sees it as a new ray of hope as far as drinking water is concerned in the Himalayan region where people, especially women, had been trekking miles together to fetch drinking water.
Dr Chidambaram also announced setting up a special laboratory in Dehra Dun, which would be utilized to examine water samples and provide the technical know-how to all those states plagued by drinking water scarcity.
Meanwhile, Uttaranchal Jalsansthan, the nodal water supply agency in the state, has decided conduct similar experiments at 10 more different springs in Garhwal areas, its Chief General Manager Harsh Pati Uniyal said.
Widespread deforestation is said to be main cause of the drinking water scarcity in the mountains stretching from Jammu and Kashmir right up to the Northeast region.