Himachal first to get GIS-based water resource framework



Shimla: Himachal Pradesh has become the first state in the country to get a GIS-based integrated water resource framework developed to help manage its water resources in a better manner. The framework, gifted by the President of India through the Planning Commission, and executed by Delhi-based company, INRM Consultants – Tech-House Consortium, will help develop and improve an integrated and comprehensive hydrological data collection and information system for optimum utilisation and sustainable management of water resources in the state.

It will help the state in going towards the first step of integration i.e., creating common databases incorporating the basic elements of primary and secondary data on topography, climate, hydrology, land use, soils, etc., standardising the drainage basins and their sub-divisions into watersheds and micro watersheds, scientifically using the strength of IT and other latest technological advancements.
The system will allow even micro watersheds to be elaborated upon to the Patwari circle level, and even up to each individual plot level and superimposed with administrative boundaries. Sociological data like income levels, backwardness etc. can also be superimposed on this.
Water demand in the state is projected to increase manifold, making it imperative to effectively plan water resources and develop an environmentally sustainable water policy. As the state is also the main source of water for many northern states, developing an effective tool for planning and monitoring this resource has a bearing on the whole region.
The framework will primarily help in co-ordinating work being done by line departments like Irrigation and Public Health (IPH), Forest, Horticulture, Power, Industries, Rural Development, etc and thus reduce overlapping. Some advantages of the common framework would be: availability of reliable and up-to-date information, better dissemination of inter and intra departmental information, effective integrated water resources management, effective integrated watershed management, and effective implementation of environmentally sustainable water resources policy.
Apart from this, the World Bank has also sanctioned Rs 49.50 to the state for executing Hydrology Project, Phase-II project. The main objective of this project is to develop and improve an integrated and comprehensive hydro-logical data collection and information system in Himachal Pradesh for optimum utilisation and sustainable management of water resources in consonance to the National and State Water Policy.
The project envisages establishing and monitoring of a network of river gauges, ground water observation wells, rain gauges, snow gauges, fully climatic stations and water quality labs to prepare a data base of surface and ground water resources in the state.
Computerisation of hydrological data will be a major landmark of the project which would facilitate easy accessibility to users. A comprehensive and users friendly database will be set up under the project. All the data collector agencies will share the data with the Hydrology Cell under some protocol. The data collecting department would be the owner of data for the purpose of its exchange. The data so collected would be transferred to the Hydrology Cell and further disseminated to the users by the Hydrology Cell.
A comprehensive website will also be developed to display all the procedures, manuals and protocols being adopted under Hydrology Project-II along with information of the availability of data under various data storage centers and contact addresses for obtaining the data. Hydrological data users groups will be established to link the state to make the data demand driven and the HDUG will represent the potential users of data like govt.  organisations, NGOs, water users associations and private sector.

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