Of all the water that exists on our planet, around 97% is salt water. Of the 3% or so of fresh water available, almost half of it remains frozen in glaciers, ice caps, or deep underground aquifers. Yes – just around 1.5% is available for our use, making every drop count. Further, with continuing population growth and industrial growth, demand continues to escalate in a supply-constrained domain.

Improving the Lives in Rural India by Technology-enabled Solutions

WGF Project Information Water: HP Pilot Project

Integrated Water Management in Himachal Pradesh
A Scientific Data and Evidence-based Decision Support System

Problem Description & Solution Approach:

Water is the most critical element, intimately impacting, particularly rural lives, economy, health, and livelihoods, and with serious consequences if not addressed now. It is also intricately linked to several Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

 

Himachal Pradesh (HP) is among the 7 leading states in India, to receive performance incentives under Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM). HP government has tirelessly worked on providing tap-water connections to 92.94% of households (16.05 lakhs out of 17.3  lakhs households) in the state. Four districts namely Chamba, Kinnaur, Lahaul-Spiti, and Una have become 100% Har-Ghar-Jal districts. With the additional incentive of Rs. 221 crores, the state envisions providing tap-water connection to 100% of households in the state. The piped water systems tap the groundwater (springs) or surface water (streams) for the connection. Hence, supply-side augmentation becomes necessary with the current scenario of groundwater depletion. As per a Niti Aayog report, 50% of the springs in the Himalayan region have either dried up or have a significant decrease in discharge.

 

While there is tremendous progress in providing tap water to individual households, there is a huge challenge in supplying water thru the network. By reducing spring discharge, these schemes are pumping up water from rivulets, and borewells in the lower streams. This results in turbidity and many other water quality issues.

 

The Project was conceived in response to the stated need of the state government, with detailed planning to bridge the identified gaps in optimal, scientific data and evidence-based solutions; Technical capacity building, particularly for the identification of aquifers & recharge areas (the rejuvenation capital cost per spring is expected to be under Rs 1,00,000/- to government); Strengthening the capacity of local self-government bodies (the Village Action Plan for water is a component of the Gram Panchayat Development Plan and a majority of works are to be taken up under MGNREGA – Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Act); community institutions, ownership, and engagement; a technological portal for effective convergence with accountability; independent third party evaluation and technical validation by IIT Roorkee.

Springshed rejuvenation requires hydrogeological study of the spring, identifying its recharge area, and designing appropriate water conservation mechanisms based on the characteristics of the recharge area. This is done by teams of specially trained Hydrogeologists and engineers.

 

The cost of rejuvenating springs is less than Rs 1 Lakh ( ~$1,330) per spring at the State government schedule rates.

Traction & Impact:

The project implementation was initiated on 1st May 2021 with the signing of MoU with the state government and onboarding of Partners through Agreement of Association. Despite unforeseen delays on account of Covid restrictions and the Model Code of Conduct under the Parliamentary by-election, substantial progress has since been achieved.

The project started with 45 springs spread across 22 villages in 4 districts of Kangra, Mandi, Bilaspur, and Solan. Soon, the Jal-Shakti department added 10 more springs supplying water to various water-supply schemes. Now the project spans 55 springs across 32 villages in 6 blocks of 4 districts of HP. The state of HP has total 12 districts and 6.8m people.

Now the State Government has initiated Spring Shed 2.0 to rejuvenate 500 springsacross the entire state. 

The value proposition:

The HP Pilot Project public-private partnership model of Consortium of Champions, with demonstrated and complementary core competencies, will catalyze a model of holistic and integrated support for large social programs of the government, leveraging best practices across diverse partners. Partnership with the state government also gives a value multiplier for donor funds and scalability & sustainability.

Partnership with IIM Ahmedabad:

Prof. Ranjan Ghosh, Faculty, IIM Ahmedabad and his team is undertaking participative action research on this intervention through using a “collaborative governance through convergence framework” keeping in view its transformational potential for policy scholarship and replicability.  Given the significant social, economic, employment, health and resource conservation impacts, the team from IIM Ahmedabad is also assessing the comparative net benefits from the intervention.

WGF’s Unique Innovative Approach:

A consortium of Partners:

The wide-ranging partnership of Champions consisted of academic institutions, scientific organizations, social enterprises, and grassroots organizations, each with a demonstrated track record in the identified gaps.

 

The engagement of the inter-sectoral Consortium of mentors will leverage their immense learnings and experience for holistic village development, through capacity enhancement of local community and panchayats.

 

Detailed Planning for quantifiable outcomes:

The quantified outcomes covering natural resources productivity, economic, social and sustainability, will be validated through independent and technical (IIT Roorkee) third party assessment and validation etc. for convergence of schemes/departments of government, with scientific & academic organizations and social enterprises for execution of village infrastructure projects- outcomes.

 

Distinguishing features:

  1. Association of multiple organizations, from grassroots to a PMC NGO, to a scientific organization like ACWADAM, to IIT Roorkee.
  2. Each Village is a sub-project with convergence through Gram Panchayat Development Plan (GPDP) and Village Action Plan (VAP), its sub-plan.
  3. A structured engagement with Outcomes
  4. Convergence matrix- outcomes, milestones, activities and tasks, mapped in the Portal
  5. Pools in the village level data in one place, across agencies and departments
  6. Scientific data and evidence-based support system for optimal water infrastructure
  7. Convergence of various schemes of the departments, for holistic and integrated execution
  8. Community mobilization and ownership for long term sustainability.
  9. Clear outcomes identified and to be monitored through Automatic Weather Stations by IIT Roorkee. The socio-economic aspects would be through third-party evaluation.

All these elements will come together in the customized Portal and Dashboard for outcome-oriented, time-bound execution, real-time corrective action, clear visibility of outcomes, seamless communication and effective monitoring.

WGF leaders providing oversight:

Water-Council leaders:

Ms. Gauri Kumar and Yogesh Andlay

Call to Action

H.P. project has laid the foundation for a unique ‘collaborative governance model and Integrated Water Management based on Scientific Data and an Evidence-based Decision Support System.

 

This model has huge potential for similar interventions and large-scale impact in other Himalayan states of northern India – e.g., Uttarkhand, Jammu & Kashmir, Sikkim, Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya, and parts of other non-Himalayan states such as Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.

 

WGF welcomes alumni from these regions to engage and support the replication & expansion of this high-impact model to these states.

Sign up for News Letter