To beat water shortage, these youths in Kinnaur’s cold desert created artificial glacier by watching YouTube videos

Himachal Pradesh is already showing signs of drought-like situation, with hardly any snow or rain this winter

By Rohit Prashar
Published: Monday 15 January 2024
The youths of Hango village in Kinnaur, Himachal Pradesh. Photo: Rohit Prashar

Tribal youths in Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh, in the environmentally sensitive Trans-Himalayan region of the state, have constructed an artificial glacier to solve the problem of water scarcity. This, even as there has hardly been any snowfall in India’s Himalayan states this winter.

Over 20 youths have constructed the artificial glacier in Hango village of Kinnaur district on the Indo-Tibetan border.

Hango is located at a height of 11,000 feet above sea level and frequently faces water scarcity in the summer. Kinnaur is a part of the cold desert landscape which also includes the districts of Leh and Kargil in Ladakh and Lahaul-Spiti in Himachal Pradesh.

The youths devised the plan to construct the glacier a week ago. The structure now measures over 50 metres. It was constructed by the youths by looking at videos on YouTube.

Read more: Store water in the sky

Himachal has been witnessing a long dry spell since the past three months. This is the first time in 20 years that there has been no snow or rain the state during January. In 2007, the state recorded a -99 per cent drop in rainfall. But this time, there has been no rain at all. The maximum temperature has also increased this year, according to meteorologists.

Surendra Singh Negi, one of the youths from Hango who constructed the artificial glacier, told this reporter that the village has been witnessing changes in rainfall and snowfall patterns in the last few years.

“This causes scarcity of water in the village during summers. We are mostly horticulturists and pea farmers. Lack of water leads to heavy losses for us. Since there has been no snowfall this year, we decided to make an artificial glacier so as to pre-empt the problem of summer water scarcity,” Negi added.

Others in the team, including Anu Negi, Thupten, Tsering Dorje, Pradip Negi, Sagar Negi and Tenzin, told this reporter that they will construct more such glaciers wherever they can be made, so as to ensure an adequate supply of water in summer.

They told this reporter about how the glacier was made. The youths brought water from a natural source to a secluded, shaded nullah by using a pipe. They then attached a sprinkler used in agriculture at the end of the pipe. The water from the natural source thus fell all over the nullah, instead of one place. This then froze into ice with the help of low temperatures in the area during winter.

Kamal Prakash Negi, the deputy head of the Hango Panchayat, appreciated the move by the youths. He said the villagers faced difficulties in ensuring water for their cash crops due to the scarcity in summer. “But such glaciers can store water for a long time, which can be used in times of need,” he told this reporter.

Artificial glaciers can be a viable alternative for high altitude, cold desert regions in the Trans-Himalaya like Kinnaur, Lahaul and Spiti, where water scarcity is a serious and growing concern.

Such structures can help residents ensure drinking water supply as well as grow their crops.

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