Wateris one of the most important natural resources of Himachal Pradesh. The stateis richly endowed with a hilly terrain having an enormous volume of water fromthe catchment areas of Satluj, Beas, Ravi and Chenab rivers. As such, the statehas enormous potential of water resources in the form of glaciers and riversbut ground water resources are limited. The major consumptive use of water inthe State has been for irrigation.
The gross irrigation potential of the Stateis estimated to be 3.35 lakh hectares, while the irrigation potential createdhas reached 2.56 lakh hectares by September 2013. The water resourceavailability in Himachal Pradesh is highly uneven in both place and time. Therainfall is limited to only about four months in a year and this rainfallvaries from 600 mm in Lahaul & Spiti to3200 mm in kangra district. Glaciersare located in higher Himalayan reaches (above 4000 m) in Pir Panjal,Dhauladhar, Zanskar and Great Himalayan ranges.
There are 800 Glaciers in theHimachal Himalayas which are 199 higher in number as compared to the previousreport of 601 Glaciers in the state reported in the State Development Report in1991. This variation is due to breaking of large glaciers into smaller oneswith the increasing temperature in past two decades. As there is an imbalance between thesupply and consumption of water, particularly by the poor and weaker sectionsof the society, the traditional sources of water plays a significant role.These include springs, Khuls, Baories, Ponds, Khaties and ditches particularlyin Himachal Pradesh. These systems supplement the water requirements of therural and urban areas. There are 10512 traditional sources of water in thestate for rural habitations.
Very less sources of water are in good workingcondition, and maximum sources are not in proper working condition and nearlygoing to dry in near future. In Chamba district less than 1 % sources werefound in good condition and more than 99 % of them are in poor condition.Sirmaur district shows a similar trend whereas slightly good than Chambadistrict. The conditions of these traditional sources are quite good in SolanDistrict which is more than 53 %. A case study was done by State Council forScience Technology & Environment to examine the good and bad condition ofwater resources in the state. The surveyed districts were Sirmour, Hamirpur,Kullu, Kangra, Chamba, Shimla, Solan. The increasing population is one of themajor causes of water resource scarcity in Himachal Pradesh.
Due to increasingpopulation water availability per capita per day is decreasing day by day. Onthe other hand, global warming is resulting in breaking of glaciers and rapidlymelting of glaciers. Industrialization is also a key factor affecting the waterquality in the state. (Directory of water resources in Himachal Pradesh, 2014). Water utilization pattern for domestic anddrinking purpose is also uneven because there are some districts which havehigh population and demand of water is very high, on the other hand there aresome districts which are less populated and water requirement is comparativelylow. There are 5 major perennial rivers flowing in the state; these are theBeas, the Ravi, the Satluj, Yamuna, and Chenab. These rivers fulfill all types of water requirement of the inhabitantsof Himachal Pradesh.
Besides these rivers, some other sources of wateravailable are lakes, springs, Tubewells, Nallahs, Handpumps, Ponds and Khatris/Bawries. Due to developmental activities and increasing population these waterresources are getting contaminated and shrinking day by day. Except thesecauses the key factor of water scarcity is global warming or climate change.The glaciers are melting at a very high rate and the traditional sources of waterlike khatries/bawries are becoming dry.