Shimla, a popular tourist destination in the Himalayan region, is also facing water scarcity issues due to groundwater depletion. The problem is not limited to Shimla alone; the entire Himalayan region is experiencing a decline in groundwater levels.
According to a recent study by the Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar (IIT-GN), North India accounts for 95 per cent of the country’s groundwater depletion, and excessive pumping is the primary cause. The study found that even an increase in rainfall in the future may not be sufficient to fully recover the already depleted groundwater resources.
The researchers at IIT-GN suggest that limiting tube well depth and including extraction costs could prevent the overexploitation of deep aquifers. They also recommend reducing groundwater depletion and improving water-use efficiency in irrigation.
In the Himalayan region, where Shimla is located, tourism is a significant contributor to the economy. However, the region’s water scarcity issue is impacting the tourism industry. Water scarcity has become so severe that the Shimla municipality had to ration water supply to residents and tourists during the summer months.
The depletion of groundwater in the Himalayan region could also have far-reaching environmental consequences, as it could affect the region’s biodiversity and the livelihoods of people who rely on agriculture and forestry.
The study shows that limiting global mean temperature rise within 2 degrees Celsius could benefit groundwater storage in North India, including the Himalayan region. It is crucial to address this issue and take steps to promote sustainable groundwater use to maintain groundwater resources in the region.