Himalayas Current Affairs
NITI Aayog constituted group of experts has submitted report titled ‘Inventory and Revival of Springs in the Himalayas for Water Security.’ It has mentioned that nearly 30% of springs crucial to water security of people are drying and 50% have reported reduced discharge.
Challenges: Almost half of perennial springs in Indian Himalayan Region (IHR) have already dried up or have become seasonal. Tens of thousands of villages in this region are currently facing acute water shortage for drinking and other domestic purposes. Almost 60% of low-discharge springs that provided water to small habitations in Himalayan region have reported clear decline during the last couple of decades
Dedicated mission: It has urged government to set up dedicated mission to salvage and revive spring water systems in Himalayan States, given their vital importance as source of water for both drinking and irrigation for the region’s inhabitants.
Key Message: It calls for spring mapping and revival, using 8 steps protocol should be taken up across Himalayan states in phased manner, applying carrying capacity concept to all major tourist destinations and implementing and monitoring tourism sector. It calls for setting up of Mission on Spring Water Management in Himalayas.
8-year programme: It also has mooted 8-year programme to overhaul spring water management. This includes preparing digital atlas of country’s springsheds, training para-hydrogeologists who could lead grassroots conservation and introducing Spring Health Card.
Water sources distribution: Meghalaya with 3,810 villages with springs has highest number of these water sources in Eastern Himalayan States. Sikkim had greatest density with 94% of its villages having spring. In Western Himalayas, Jammu & Kashmir had both highest number of villages with springs at 3,313 and greatest density of 50.6%.
Indian Himalayan Region (IHR) spans across states across country’s north and northeast and is home to about 50 million people who are heavily reliant on natural groundwater sources such as perennial springs. These water sources are under increasing threat from urbanisation caused by constant push for development and climate change. The extent of crisis plaguing Himalayan region was recently evident when more than half dozen districts of Himachal Pradesh and State capital Shimla had faced severe drinking water crisis in May 2018 after major water sources either went fully or partially dry.
Scientists and taxonomists in India have discovered 349 new species of flora and fauna in the past one year. Of these discovered flora and fauna 173 species are genera of plants and 176 species of animals.
The list of new discovered species was published by the Botanical Survey of India (BSI) and the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) both headquartered in Kolkata, West Bengal.
- Biodiversity hotspots: Most of discoveries were from India’s two Biodiversity hotspots viz Western Ghats and Eastern Himalayas. Western Ghats accounted for 22 per cent of the new discoveries.
- While, the Eastern Himalayas accounted for 15 per cent discovered species. 25 species of seed plants were alone discovered in Arunachal Pradesh.
- Animal species: Of the 176 new animal species discovered 93 species are of insects, 7 species are of collembolans, 12 species of arachnidan, 12 species crustacean and 1 species of mollusca.
- Reptiles: 2 species of reptiles for the first time have been found in India. One was discovered in Tamil Nadu and another in Madhya Pradesh.
- Fish: 23 new fish species were discovered. Majority of fish species were discovered in north-east India.
- Amphibians: 24 new amphibian species were discovered. Most of the new species of amphibians were discovered in the Western Ghats.
- New records: Apart from the discovered new species, the BSI has also added 105 new records species and ZSI 61 new records species.
- It should be noted that new records means animals and plants that have been spotted in India for the first time and those are found elsewhere in the world.
In year 2014, 614 new species of plants and animals were discovered which included 366 plants and 248 animal species. With this, 96,891 species of animals and 47,791 species of plants have been recorded so far in India.