Initiative to revive Henwal river paying off: Officials

Initiative to revive Henwal river paying off, discharge level improving: Officials

The Henwal river flows from near the revered Surkanda Devi temple in Tehri district to Shivpuri area of Rishikesh, where it merges with the Ganga

Rishikesh. Representative Image. Credit: AFP Photo

A holistic approach based on the springshed and aquifer recharge method to revive the Henwal river – a tributary of the Ganga with which it merges here – has begun to pay off and its discharge level has improved, officials said on Saturday.

The Henwal river flows from near the revered Surkanda Devi temple in Tehri district to Shivpuri area of Rishikesh, where it merges with the Ganga.

Efforts to revive the Henwal were launched about a year ago by the Narendra Nagar Forest Division after concerns were raised in a Central Water Board report in 2018 over the declining discharge level of the tributary, DFO Dharma Singh Meena said.

Even the NITI Aayog, in a report in 2018, had said 50 per cent of the water resources in the Himalayan states, including Uttarakhand, were drying up, Meena added.

Excessive exploitation of natural resources in the area, unplanned construction of roads and climate change are the factors that have contributed to the declining discharge level of the Henwal river, Meena said.

The official said the first step taken by his team to revive the river was identifying 15 streams and 40 water springs from Surkanda to Bemunda that fed it.

Efforts were made to increase their water tables using the springshed and aquifer recharge method, he said, adding that check dams were created at a number of places in the surrounding forests, and afforestation was done over nearly 100 hectares of forest land.

The Henwal river is spread over an area of 16,500 hectares from Surkanda to Bemunda. The Henwal revival plan was of Rs 11 crore, and the department found it hard to afford, Meena said.

But money was saved from other less important projects and spent on it to revive the river, he added.

Integrated efforts to revive the river have begun to pay off with its discharge level improving from 35 litres per minute to 40 litres per minute, Meena said.