Half of the mountain springs in the Himalayan region are drying up, a NITI Aayog draft report has said. The report, which the organisation’s working group on “Inventory and Revival of Springs of Himalaya for Water Security” prepared, has asked all stakeholders to comment on it by February 19 to decide what can be done to save the water bodies, Mint reported.

“Nearly 60% of low-discharge springs that provided water to small habitations in the Himalayan region have reported a clear decline during the last couple of decades,” the report said, and added that it was time to recognise “springwater depletion as a nationally pertinent problem and begin to address it through preventive and corrective measures”.

There are five million springs in India, of which close to three million are in the Indian Himalayan Region – which is spread across 12 states and is home to over 50 million people –, the report said.

These springs are the primary source of water for rural households in the region and, for many, the only source. A number of urban communities too depend on these water bodies.

Moreover, the Himalayas are a major source of fresh water for perennial rivers such as the Indus, the Ganga and the Brahmaputra, and depletion in spring flows at the rivers’ origins might impact their flow, Mint reported.

The report has recommended short-term, medium-term and long-term action plans, spread over eight years, to tackle the problem. Systematic mapping of springs across the Himalayas, spring-shed management, a spring revival programme in a vulnerable block in each of the mountain states and regular monitoring of springs are some of the steps that have been recommended. The NITI Aayog has also suggested that a national registry for springs could be set up to frequently evaluate them.