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WATER IN KUMAON: ECOLOGY, VALUE, AND RIGHTS·edited by Gopal K Kadekodi, K S R Murthy, Kireet Kumar·G B Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development·Kosi- Katarmal·Almora·pp 256
The book looks at the value of water as a basic need instead of valuing water in terms of productivity in agriculture and industry, or in terms of the costs of supply. It examines water in the regional context, in terms of what it means to the people of Kumaon, more specifically to the women, since it is the women who are most affected by its availability or lack of it.
Kumaon is the origin of five major rivers of India -- namely Kali, Alaknanda, W Ramganga, Kosi and Gaula -- all rivers that ultimately join Ganga. The irony is while the region's contribution to water for the plains is significant, the region itself suffers from severe water shortage in the natural springs and rivulets. The people from the region travel, on an average, between 0.5 to 2.8 km to collect drinking water. The women spend 30-40 per cent of their time in collection activities, be it for fodder, fuel or water.
The vagaries of nature, the drying up of water sources, all add up to the uncertainty of drinking water availability.
Besides, some water policy initiatives in regional context, the book describes water resources, water usage patterns and the hardships that people have to face to access water in a number of selected villages of the region. Based on surveys, the book reveals the willingness of the people to pay for the water they drink.