Interview

Breathing New Life into Kosi

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Kosi River

As part of the preparation for Phase-II of the Kosi rejuvenation programme, Vikas Bhawan Almora is taking various innovative steps like setting up of a Kosi Secretariat on its premises, which will look after the holistic development, timely approval and review of rejuvenation works, writes KK Pant, District Development Officer, Almora.

KK Pant

KK Pant, District Development Officer, Almora

Mother Kosi, the ‘Lifeline of Almora’, stretches for 75 km from her origin till Quarab, making a watershed area spread of 452 sq km. The river plays an important role in the ecological and economic well being of the region and the communities that depend on it to draw their sustenance.

Why Almora Needs Kosi?

As many as 350 villages in and around Almora depend on Kosi for their drinking water needs, sanitation and other usages. The Kosi River feeds 33 major irrigation canals, hundreds of small irrigation canals, 16 lift schemes, among others. Not only for humans, but also the rich biodiversity of Binsar wildlife sanctuary and associated ecosystems depend on the river for food, fodder, fruits, flowers, etc.

Challenges Kosi is facing

As per studies by eminent geohydrologists, Kosi had flow of 790 litres/ second in 1992, which reduced to 48 litres/second in 2017. In the summer season, 90 small streams in upper belt of watershed dry up, resulting into nearly drying up of the main channel of Kosi. Forest fires, cattle grazing and mining have aggravated the pain of Kosi.

As per studies by eminent geohydrologists, Kosi had flow of 790 litres/ second in 1992, which shrank to 48 litres/second in 2017. In the summer season, 90 small streams in upper belt of watershed dry up, resulting into nearly drying up of the main channel of Kosi.

Bhagiratha Initiatives

As many as 14 recharge zones of the Kosi River have been identified, which are the focus of joint rejuvenation efforts of various departments in the district mainly in Hawalbagh and Takula blocks. Two main approaches –mechanical and biological treatment –have been adopted that consist of below components:

Bhagiratha Initiatives

Impact

Efforts made during the last Monsoon season have started giving results in the form of net accumulation of 174 million litres of ground water through recharge efforts. The quantity of water gained is enough to irrigate up to 6,960 hectares of agriculture land, helping Almora to achieve its sustainable development goal in the coming decades. Government of India has recognised these efforts by presenting the district the National Award in North Zone in “Best District in Revival of River” category.

Way Forward

Carrying forward the momentum of the ongoing efforts, Almora district administration has mapped all 14 recharge zones through the GIS technique, which is helpful in tracing the actual work on the ground.

State Government Project

Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India, rewarded the efforts made in Kosi Rejuvenation programme by granting the district a fund of approximately Rs 3.5 crores for a period of three years with three specific guidelines.

Also Read: Saving Kosi The Lifeline of Almora

Objectives

To work on water conservation and to monitor water flow through ‘flow & discharge measurement along with quality measurement. Apart from it, developing conservation models in selected village & schools in 2 recharge Zones of Simtola & Devlikhan, creation of Kosi secretariat at district level and skill development of youth as tourist guide.

Monitoring indicators

Monitoring is key to the success. Focusing on data such as number of plant maintained and survived, stream treated, awareness campaigns started, how many regional best practices implemented, no. of plant seeding developed are being holistically monitored by the Almora district administration and state authorities.

Quantifiable Deliverables

It consist of maintenance of plant saplings, plantation of native broad leaf plant at degraded forest patches, treatment of spring shed and catchment area, strengthening of state nursing and timely reports on improvement of river flow are the key quantifiable deliverables.

As part of the preparation for Phase II of the Kosi rejuvenation programme, Vikas Bhawan Almora is taking various innovative steps like setting up of a Kosi Secretariat on its premises, which will look after the holistic development, timely approval and review of rejuvenation works.

The district administration of Almora is also working on a website that will have all the details of the Kosi project, including payment gateway for raising funds through ‘Crowd-Sourcing’, which will turn this project into a people-funded rejuvenation project, thus ensuring greater participation of the citizenry.

Apart from it, the administration is working extensively with media teams to raise awareness among the people through a magazine called Kosi Patrika, a community radio “Kumaun Vani”, Akashvani and most importantly through social media.

The Kosi rejuvenation project is making a steady progress, but unless civil society, NGOs, citizens, students, media, and other stakeholders, which form a vital group, don’t contribute to the cause the efforts would remain incomplete.

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