PULWAMA — A severe water crisis has engulfed the Kashmir region, triggered by an extended dry winter spell that has severely impacted its water sources, prompting officials to raise urgent alarms about the area’s water supply.
The water level of Kashmir’s primary river, the Jhelum, has plummeted to an unprecedented low, registering a mere 0.75 feet at the Sangam gauge. The once picturesque view of the river now appears starkly desolate, with sections of the riverbed dry and cracked – a sight never witnessed before. The alarming situation has sparked concerns about the future availability of water in the region.
Sanjeev Malhotra, Chief Engineer of the Jal Shakti Department, voiced his apprehension over the dwindling water levels, stating that the water supply is insufficient at the water sources, and they are unable to provide drinking water to their full capacity.
He underscored the impact of schemes relying on the Jhelum, elucidating, “We are digging small trenches to ensure that water is available for the pumps to lift and later for distribution.”
Key water bodies supplying drinking water to a vast population, including Sukhnag, Kal Nag, and Dachigam, have experienced reduced discharge, exacerbating the crisis. Experts depict the situation as unprecedented and unavoidable, emphasizing the critical need for rain to replenish these water sources.
The Jal Shakti Department is managing the situation so far and has been dispatching water tankers to areas where the need is felt. However, officials from the department sounded alarm that the situation could deteriorate if the dry weather persists.
It is in place to mention here that the Valley has been under the grip of a prolonged dry spell with minimal snowfall this winter, resulting in a 79% deficit in December 2023 and a 100% deficit in January 2024.
Mukhtar Ahmad, Director of the Meteorological Department, attributed the abnormal weather patterns to the El Niño phenomenon, leading to a dry Himalayan region.
As per his analysis, the prolonged presence of El Niño, persisting for the last two months, is a major contributing factor to the ongoing dry spell. He cites the absence of western disturbances as a primary cause, with no significant relief anticipated in the near future.
Highlighting global atmospheric pressure shifts, he notes that such dry spells are witnessed in intervals of two to three years or even five years.
While a feeble Western disturbance is expected from January 15 to 16, offering slight relief, however, dry weather is predicted until January 20. MeT suggested a potential change after January 25, with various weather models indicating the possibility of rain or snow.
Meanwhile, the region remains on edge, anxiously awaiting relief from the prolonged water crisis.