Interview

Rejuvenating Kosi, Reinventing Almora: Nitin Bhadauria

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Nitin Bhadauria, District Magistrate, Almora, Government of Uttarakhand

The Himalayas have a very sensitive and fragile ecosystem. It’s important that they are protected and preserved. For this, we are committed to sustainable development in this region. One of the biggest steps taken in this direction is the Kosi rejuvenation project. Through Kosi rejuvenation, we are determined to reinvigorate this river to its pristine glory, says Nitin Bhadauria, District Magistrate, Almora, Government of Uttarakhand, in a conversation with Souvik Goswami of Elets News Network (ENN)

Why is it important to rejuvenate river Kosi?

The river Kosi is the ‘Lifeline of Almora’. It 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. 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.  

What are the challenges faced by the river?

As per studies by eminent Geohydrologists, Kosi had a flow of 790 litres/second in 1992, which reduced to 48 litres/second in 2017. In the summer season, 90 small streams in the upper belt of watershed dry up, resulting in nearly drying up of the main channel of Kosi. Forest fires, cattle grazing, and mining have aggravated the pain of Kosi. Unlike other rivers, Kosi is a non-glacial river; therefore, its life depends on the water recharged in its huge catchment area. Over the years, it has lowered down as about 350 villages fall in the catchment area. We are talking with local people to address this. 

Shed some light on the steps taken for Kosi rejuvenation. 

In line with the vision of Hon’ble Chief Minister of Uttarakhand, we are leaving no stone unturned for Kosi river rejuvenation. 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. We have created Kosi rejuvenation secretariat. We are focusing on water conservation and to monitor water flow through ‘flow & discharge measurement along with the quality measurement. 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 this, 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.

Let me also remind you that the Himalayas have a very sensitive and fragile ecosystem. It’s important that they are protected and preserved. For this, we are committed to sustainable development in this region. One of the biggest steps taken in this direction is the Kosi rejuvenation project. Through Kosi rejuvenation, we are determined to reinvigorate this river to its pristine glory.

Almora district has also won national-level award in recently for Kosi River Conservation and Rejuvenation project

Kosi River Rejuvenation Mission will attain its complete success with more and more citizen participation along with the participation of NGOs, industry bodies and social entrepreneurs. 

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