Doda reels under water crisis as reservoirs go dry

Doda reels under water crisis as reservoirs go dryThe mighty Chenab flows through erstwhile Doda district, but the district is facing acute shortage of drinking water. The natural water resources in the district are diminishing due to climate change and the casual approach of the government.
About 10 lakh people of Doda, Ramban and Kishtwar district have been witnessing shortage of drinking water during the summer for the past few years.
The loot of the green gold by the forest mafia has led to drying up of natural reservoirs and streams which used to be the main source of drinking water for people.
In the Koti, Dessa and Jodhpur areas of Doda district, people have to walk miles to fetch drinking water.
The total area of the erstwhile district is 11,691 sqkm and the terrain is mostly hilly.
Experts said that till 1975, forests of the district were at number one in Asia in terms of density but now it stands nowhere.
People of the area were never dependent on the Chenab river for drinking and irrigation purposes, but now people want the river water to be supplied to them.
Successive governments gave licences to forest contractors to cut down trees but no step was taken to plant more trees and bring back the green cover.
The loss of forest cover has also led to soil erosion. As a result, the rainwater flows quickly without seeping into the earth, drying up the natural water resources.
“We have seen the forest cover diminishing. Not only the government, but people are also responsible for the destruction of forests as timber is used for construction of houses. Nothing has been done to increase the forest cover,” said Muhammad Yaqoob, a resident of Kishtwar town.
Officials in the Public Health Engineering (PHE) Department said corruption in the department was also responsible for the water woes of the area. They said many water supply schemes had become defunct due to the unprofessional attitude of officials of the department.
They said water schemes for Doda and Kishtwar towns, two district headquarters of Doda and Kishtwar districts, were marred by corruption in the PHE Department.
They said the Dessa-Doda water supply scheme was somehow completed in 2014 but the water supply gets affected due to the poor quality pipelines used by the department.
The water supply scheme to Kishtwar from the Naigarh stream is yet to see the light of the day, they added.
Earlier, the water supply scheme was under the PHE Department, but later it was handed over to a Hyderabad-based company in 2013.
“The work on the scheme got delayed as the company had to finalise some formalities. The work on it has finally started and it may take two more years for completion,” said Ashok Kumar Pradhan, Superintending Engineer, Hydraulic Circle, Doda. “Earlier, the completion date was June 2017 but now it may be completed in 2018,” he added.