Water Scarcity in Water abundant areas

Context:
  • Arunachal Pradesh is staring at scarcity of water, the very resource that is expected to make the frontier State India’s hydroelectric powerhouse.
  • More than 200 rivers and streams across Arunachal Pradesh have dried up.
  • The scenario could be as grim as Shimla, the capital of another “presumably water-abundant” Himalayan State that underwent a severe water crisis recently.
What are the reasons?
  • The drying up of water bodies is attributed to rampant destruction of forests besides thinning glaciers in the Eastern Himalayas due to climate change.
  • The State’s forest cover has decreased from 82% to 79% and catchment areas of many rivers are under threat because of jhum (slash-and-burn) cultivation and landslides.
  • Large-scale hunting of animals, too, has been a factor in the depletion of the State’s natural resources.
  • Many communities hunt birds and animals for food and adornment of traditional headgear. Wild animals such as Asiatic black bear, leaf deer and Mishmi takin are considered delicacies.
  • Public cooperation was imperative for conservation of forests and wildlife in a State where much of the land is community-owned.
  • The water scarcity has undermined the State’s much-vaunted hydropower potential, which the Parliament’s Standing Committee on Energy said is 25,962 MW. But only about 405 MW had been commissioned till 2017.