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36% rain deficit, Himachal Pradesh readies for looming water scarcity

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Tribune News Service

Shimla, February 27

With the hill state witnessing a deficit rainfall this winter season, the government has pressed the alert button over an impending water crisis.

Put on alert

  • Dept heads told to chalk out strategy to mitigate drought-like conditions
  • DCs told to preserve and rejuvenate traditional water bodies like baolis, ponds

The departments concerned have been told to chalk out a strategy to mitigate the drought-like situation the state is currently experiencing. The deputy commissioners have been told to preserve and rejuvenate traditional water bodies like baolis and ponds.In a review meeting on the matter today, which was chaired by Chief Secretary Prabodh Saxena and attended by heads of several departments and deputy commissioners (via video-conferencing), the general consensus was that the situation was not worrisome as of now, but it could “become challenging in April and May if the dry spell continues”.

The state witnessed an overall rain deficiency of 36 per cent from January 1 to February 27. The most affected districts are Solan (67 per cent deficient rain), Mandi (60 per cent), Bilaspur (53 per cent) and Hamirpur (45 per cent). The maximum crop loss due to dry weather was reported from Solan (Rs 36 crore). “The overall crop loss has been pegged at Rs 75 crore till January 10,” said an official of the Agriculture Department.

As of now, water schemes have not been affected much. “Of over 10,000 water schemes, only 10-12 are facing crisis. This could change if rain continues to elude the state,” said an official.

To mitigate the effects of the dry spell, Saxena has directed the Jal Shakti Department to complete work on 12 water schemes, which are nearing completion, in a month.

The Chief Secretary also issued directions to the forest officials to keep their men and machinery ready to handle the possible forest fires in the summer season. “The departments should work closely with the State Disaster Management Authority and be ready to take timely action to handle adversities that may arise due to the dry spell,” said Saxena.

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