Forest ponds in Himachal to harvest rainwater

Forest pond in the Himalayas

He said the 'van sarovars' or forest ponds will be constructed under the NREGA (National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) programme. "These would help check depleting water levels by recharging aquifers and even provide water to the wildlife during peak summer," Nadda said.

"Initially, five such ponds would be constructed in each of the 38 forest divisions. Falling water level is a cause of concern. Even during monsoon, most of the rainwater goes down the drain due to lack of rainwater harvesting structures."

"Large-scale conversion of green patches into concrete jungle has already affected recharging of aquifers. For this, forest ponds would provide water for the plantations that would be taken up from time to time."

For constructing the ponds, Nadda said the labourers would be employed under the central government's flagship NREGA programme.

Himachal Pradesh has 33 wildlife sanctuaries and two national parks. According to official records, 66 percent - 37,033 sq km of the total 55,643 sq km - of the Himalayan state is under forest cover.

The lush green valleys and snow capped mountains of the state are home to 36 percent of the country's species of birds. Of the 1,228 species that have been reported in India, 447 are in this state alone.

Similarly, 77 species of mammals - from the spectacular snow leopard to the common Himalayan tahr, a type of wild goat - have been recorded by the Himachal State Council for Science, Technology and Environment in its biodiversity report.

The storehouse of biodiversity also supports 3,120 species of flowering plants, including 187 species of medicinal plants.

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