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Water Crisis in Jammu: The Need for Sustainable Planning


Dr.Ramesh Kumar Thusoo

Overflowing overhead water tanks from the houses, flats and buildings – government as well as private – bring to light the pressing issue of water mismanagement in , a crisis exacerbated by leakage of potable water at several places in supply and distribution pipes.

This situation is further aggravated by the government's failure to develop and implement effective strategies to harness the perennial Chenab River, a potentially invaluable water source for the region. The consequences of this oversight are dire, impacting public access to water and raising concerns about future water security.


The Legacy of Maharaja Hari Singh

Historically, the region has benefited from visionary projects like the Ranbir Singh Canal, initiated by Maharaja Hari Singh. This canal has been instrumental in irrigating the surrounding areas, thereby boosting agricultural productivity and maintaining a high water table. The resultant prosperity allowed for the digging of numerous wells, ensuring a steady supply of drinking water and enhancing the overall water infrastructure.

Maharaja Hari Singh's foresight in water management provides a historical blueprint for the current administration. His approach underscores the importance of utilizing local water resources efficiently and sustainably. The success of the Ranbir Singh Canal demonstrates that with proper planning and execution, water scarcity can be significantly mitigated.


Current Challenges

and Mismanagement

However, the present scenario starkly contrasts with this historical success. Water leakage and misuse are rampant, contributing significantly to the water crisis. The infrastructure is aging and poorly maintained, leading to substantial losses of potable water. Mismanagement at various levels exacerbates the situation, with a lack of accountability and inefficient water distribution systems.

Moreover, the failure to tap into the Chenab River remains a critical oversight. The Chenab is a perennial river that could potentially alleviate much of the water scarcity in the region if properly harnessed. Yet, the absence of a comprehensive plan to utilize this resource represents a significant lapse in strategic planning and resource management.

The Path Forward: Sustainable Planning and Implementation

To address these issues, a multi-faceted approach is required, focusing on both immediate and long-term strategies. Key steps include:


  1. Infrastructure Overhaul

The existing water supply infrastructure needs urgent repairs and upgrades to minimize leakage. This includes replacing old pipelines, fixing leaks promptly, and modernizing the distribution network.


  1. Efficient Water Management:

Implementing advanced water management techniques can reduce misuse. This involves educating the public on water conservation, enforcing regulations against wastage, and utilizing for better monitoring and control of water usage.


  1. Harnessing the Chenab River:

Developing a comprehensive plan to tap the Chenab River is crucial. This would involve constructing new canals, reservoirs, and treatment plants to ensure that the water is effectively utilized for both agricultural and drinking purposes.


  1. Reviving Historical Wisdom:

Drawing inspiration from Maharaja Hari Singh's successful initiatives, the government can explore restoring and expanding existing canals and wells. Integrating traditional water management practices with modern technology could enhance water availability and sustainability.


  1. Sustainable Practices:

Long-term planning must prioritize sustainable water use to safeguard resources for future generations. This includes promoting rainwater harvesting, groundwater recharge, and the adoption of water-efficient agricultural practices.


  1. Government Accountability and Public Involvement:

Ensuring that government agencies are held accountable for water management is vital. Additionally, involving local  communities in water conservation efforts can foster a collective sense of responsibility and encourage sustainable practices.


7.The Jal Shakti Department

(PHE) or Local Bodies should establish properly manned effective and prominently visible Service Centres in each ward, approachable for common citizen, for getting the leaking pipes, damaged supply and distribution lines and pump sets/motors etc, of any, immediately plugged and repaired, wherever and whenever required.



The water crisis in Jammu is a multifaceted issue that requires urgent attention and strategic intervention. Learning from historical successes and implementing sustainable practices can help mitigate the crisis. By addressing infrastructure deficiencies, reducing water misuse, and effectively tapping into the Chenab River, Jammu can secure a reliable water supply for its current and future generations. It is imperative that the government takes immediate action to implement these strategies, ensuring that water scarcity becomes a challenge of the past rather than a threat to the future.



The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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