Close on similar lines, now Himachal Pradesh too is adopting the snow harvesting technique to meet the water requirement of cold desert areas like Kinnaur and Lahaul-Spiti districts. View more at #YesPahari.
In the remote Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir, where scanty rainfall keeps the area almost parched in summer, people like Chhewang Norhel and Sonam Wangchuk are creating artificial glaciers and ice stupas respectively, to turn water into ice during winters to meet the irrigational demands in summer.
Snow Harvesting Project
The Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, on Monday sanctioned rupees one crore for the snow harvesting project of Himachal Pradesh. Under this pilot project, the snow harvesting technique would be adopted in the Pooh region of Kinnaur district, located close to China border where scanty rainfall makes it difficult for local people to have water during summer to irrigate their apple orchards. This ambitious project, aimed at meeting the water requirement of cold deserts of the state where rainfall remains almost negligible would be carried by the HP State Council for Science, Technology, and Environment, with the help of Snow and Avalanche Study Establishment, Chandigarh.
Snow Harvesting Technique
The council’s member joint-secretary Kunal Satyarthi, said for two years, the snow harvesting technique would be tested at Pooh (located at an altitude of 2,662 metres), where people have grown apple orchards. He said as rainfall remains negligible during summer, local people have to use water tankers to irrigate their apple orchards. He said the basic idea behind this project is to have plenty of ice during winter to meet the irrigational needs for agriculture in the summer months. He said as ice melts at a slow place in the cold deserts of Himachal Pradesh, it would ensure the availability of water during peak summers in areas having water scarcity.
Accumulate maximum amount of snow
He said in Europe and US, ski villages use the technology of snow harvesting to accumulate the maximum amount of snow at a particular place with the help of engineering design, and the same technology would be adopted in Kinnaur. He said under the scheme, ski villages will be built to accummulate maximum snow at one place, and in summer, the melting snow would ensure water supply for apple orchards. In the coming years, Himachal Pradesh is likely to witness water crisis, and at that time, snow harvesting would help meet the growing demand. He said for two years, the project would be studied, and if proved successful, then a bigger project would be developed for around 50 sites of Kinnaur and Lahaul-Spiti districts.
Stirred by environmental challenges facing the world, Chewang Norphel, a retired civil engineer and native of Ladakh had displayed a rare combination of common sense and determination to hit upon a novel way of creating glaciers. The ‘Glacier Man’, as he is called, tapped snow and ice run-off, turning them into artificial glaciers that provide much-needed water for irrigation in the rain-shadow region of Ladakh. Before Norphel came up with the innovative idea, farmers in Ladakh were complaining of water shortage that was eating into their livelihood. After much consideration, he came up with the idea of high altitude water harvesting and created over a dozen artificial glaciers that turned the barren lands into fertile ones.
Another engineer and native of Ladakh, Sonam Wangchuk also came up with the idea of creating vertical ice stupas. One ice stupa of 35 to 40 metres height can store 15,000 cubic litres of water to irrigate around 10 hectares of land in summer. After finding that by mid-September, all farming activities end in Ladakh, and yet a smaller stream flows throughout the winter steadily, but wastefully flows into the Indus river without being of use to anybody, Wangchuk came up with the idea of making ice stupas to store this wasting winter water in the form of ice mountains. Now, these ice stupas melt and feed farms during summer, when water is most needed by farmers.
View more at #YesPahari.