EDITORIAL: Save water sources

The catchment areas should be protected from human encroachment in the endeavor for sustaining water supply systems

There is an urgent need to protect depleting water resources. Humans are to be blamed for the scarcity of water.

It is widely believed the effects of climate change have an adverse impact on the catchment areas apart from the activities of humans. Because of these the quality of water and quantity of water resources are under serious threat.

This calls for conserving these areas so as to safeguard the quality and quantity of water. In a bid to do so the government has said it would be taking appropriate action towards this end and put them into practice.

Measures would also be taken to use and preserve ancient and historic water spouts as most of them have already dried up. Ponds could also be turned into areas for recreation and for their aesthetic value.

These water sources would be used to supplement water supply in areas where water is scarce through the catchment protection and also their treatment.

One should learn from an example of the Shivapuri watershed and the streams emerging from it, which has increased an impressive six-fold after measures were taken for its conservation that was initiated in 1990.

The government’s 15-year plan would also be addressing the agenda for river health. With rapid urban growth the supply of water has been diminishing at an alarming level.

This can be seen particularly in the Kathmandu Valley where water is turning to be a scarce commodity. The Bagmati River at one time had almost dried up.

When this happens the entire population depending on the rivers would be under serious threat. However, through various campaigns carried out over time this river has been given a new leash of life.

Efforts to improve the health of Bagmati River appear to have succeeded to some extent although much still remains to be done so that this river and other threatened rivers are restored to their former pristine glory through various innovative conservation schemes.

Also mooted is the building of two medium-sized dams in the Nagmati and Dhap areas in the upper catchment of the Bagmati River.

It is essential to conserve the water sources if we are to protect the ecosystem as a whole. The catchment areas should be protected from human encroachment in this endeavor for sustaining water supply systems.

These days we see the extraction of groundwater in a rampant manner irrespective of the damage this is doing to the water table which is now depleting.

Therefore, we cannot continue to rely on groundwater whose supply is limited and, as such, setting a limit is appropriate as far as the regulations and standards are concerned.

The serious unpredictable effects of climate change should not be taken up lightly for the threats posed by it are real. In the meantime, it is high time the government implemented its action plan to protect the water sources in earnest.

These plans would prove to be successful in mitigating the ill-effects of the shortage of water sources and their quality and quantity.

Failing this, conflict could arise for the use of water due to the depletion of their supply.

Clean cooking

The Ministry of Population and Environment is all set to implement its plan of promoting clean cooking technology in all households by 2022.

Indoor air pollution is one of the major health problems in Nepal, particularly in rural areas, where people use traditional biomass energy such as firewood, agricultural products and other residues for cooking.

Indoor air pollution in the kitchens can be minimized by using solid biomass, biogas and electricity and making improvement in the traditional hearth that consumes more firewood.

About 77 percent of the energy consumption in Nepal is supplied by traditional biomass which is one of the major causes of deforestation.

Biogas plant, for example, has become the most successful initiative in rural areas where electricity is still a luxury item. As many people in the rural areas rear cattle for dairy and dung for agricultural purposes, the biogas plant is a sustainable technology for clean cooking.

The initiative taken by the government for over three decades must be promoted across the country with more incentives and subsidy.

This initiative, if launched as a nationwide campaign, can also help save foreign currency spent to import cooking gas which quite often becomes scarce due to short supply for various reasons.