The Department of Health, CTA has carried out numerous Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) projects in the Tibetan settlements and schools in India and Nepal to improve access and use of safe water and sanitation projects. Over the years, the Department has implemented construction of overhead tanks, submersible pumps, public toilets and drainage systems projects costing over INR310.59 lakhs and benefitting thousands of direct beneficiaries. The United States Bureau of Population, Refugee and Migration (PRM) has been one of the core and longest funding partner for the Health Department’s WASH activities facilitated by SARD.
In 2018, the Health Department carried out a major integrated hydrogeological study of the water situation in 8 key Tibetan Settlements in India (Bylakuppe Lugsum and Delar, Mundgod, Mainpat, Bhandara, Kollegal, Hunsur and Orissa settlements) and Tashiling Tibetan Settlement in Nepal. The India study was conducted by SPACE GEO- TECH, (SPGT), a Bangalore based firm and was funded by PRM. SPGT conducted detailed study of sustainability of the surface and ground water and quality of the drinking water sources. A detailed report and findings was produced for each settlement. A summary is available on the SARD website. They used various scientific techniques including Satellite images and GIS techniques in assessing the hydrological and hydro geological setup of the terrain, precipitation patterns, its variations and influence on both surface and ground water. The SPGT technical personals and Health officers conducted field investigations in staged manner during the winter season.
Followings are some key survey findings and recommendations:
- Ground water is the primary source of the water supply in the Tibetan Settlements. Numbers of bore wells have been drilled in the settlements. Due to poor maintenance and an over exploitation of ground water levels, the quantity and quality is depleting. The study recommended implementing rainwater harvesting to recharge the ground water to mitigate the negative impact and to ensure future sustainability.
- Water samples tested from the existing working bore wells in the settlements revealed Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) level are well within the desirable limits and suitable for drinking and domestic use purpose. (The TDS levelfor a drinking water are: excellent: less than 300 mg/litre; good: between 300 and 600 mg/litre; fair: between 600 and 900 mg/litre; poor: between 900 and 1200 mg/litre; and unacceptable: greater than 1200 mg/litre (1).)
|Settlements||TDS Range||Water Quality Status|
Rainfall plays a dominant role in the influencing the ground water sources. The Indian Metrological Department’s raw data were used by the Space Geo Tech and in few settlements the nearest local rain gauging station’s data are considered for the rainfall measuring. The rainfall pattern at settlements and its nearest rain gauging station over the years are as follow.
Annual Rainfall (mm) in Eight Tibetan Settlements from the nearest rain gauge station (2009-2017)
Source: Space Geo Tech Report
Ground Water Levels:
At present all the eight settlements are depending on ground water source for their daily needs. The following table shows the average historical data of 4 seasons as available has been considered for the analysis. Monitoring has been carried out during 4 seasons viz., pre monsoon (May), monsoon (September), post monsoon (November) and winter (February).water table data shown from the nearest monitored at respective settlements.
Ground Water Level Data of Eight Settlements from nearest Monitored Well (1996 – 2016)
Water level in m.BGL
Source: Space Geo Tech Report
- Rabgayling Tibetan settlements, Hunsur: Ground water source has been tapped at innumerable places, out of which only few are working at present in these villages and monasteries. In addition to this, within a smaller area of about 2000 acres, number of bore wells has been drilled, but the same are not in use either due to collapsed conditions or low discharging rates or no yield. These are causing the negative impact on ground water level and quality within the vicinity. Hence, it is very much essential to implement the rainwater harvesting structures for ground water recharge.
- Phendeling Tibetan Settlement, Mainpat: Groundwater has been tapped at 44 locations. In addition to these tapping points, there are number of open wells, which were used earlier, and are defunct due to dwindling of shallow water table. This has caused due to over exploitation of ground water in limited potential zone. By implementing the rainwater harvesting structures, these can be rejuvenated.
- Doeguling Tibetan Settlement, Mundgod: Like Bylakuppe, the Mundgod settlement does not have any nearby perennial surface water and the same has not been planned so far. Hence they are suggested to install check dams, Percolation ponds and Point recharge.
- Phuntsokling Tibetan Settlement, Odisha: As the sources are dwindling, it is important to take up the rainwater harvesting structures, for ground water recharge to overcome the problems in due course. In addition to this immediately, action to be taken for construction of new Over Head Tanks (OHT) as the same is in collapsible state. Majority of the bore wells are getting dried due to over exploitation and hence immediate precaution measures are to be considered.
- Dhondenling Tibetan Settlement, Kollegal: Ground water has been tapped at 87 locations. By analysing these, it can be noticed that in majority of the area only small tanks are connected by bore wells due to limited availability of ground water (less discharge). This indicates poor ground water potentiality and requirement of sustainable source in long run. Thus, to improve the ground water quality and also the source sustainability, the implementation of artificial ground water recharge techniques is very much essential.
- Norgyeling Tibetan Settlement, Bhandara: As the ground water levels are dwindling due to over exploitation in this region, even though the settlement is in canal command, as well as the rainfall is also getting depleted, it is better to implement rain water harvesting in a staged manner for source sustainability. This will improve both the quality as well as quantity.
- Lugsum and Delar Tibetan Settlement, Bylakuppe: The Government of Karnataka has initiated new water supply schemes through its Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Department under a program called Multi Village Scheme (MVS). This program will provide surface water to all camps, under two schemes, known as Doddahavare as well as Koppa schemes. Doddahavare scheme is mainly for providing water supply to 19 Tibetan The 19 settlements covered are camps 1 to 4 of LTS, Sakya Monastery, Namdrolling monastery, Namdrolling Nunnery Monastery, Sera Jhe/ Sera Mey monastery of LTS and all camps of DTS, except 15 And 16. Therefore, it is essential to implement the rainwater harvesting structures for source sustainability in the above mention camps.
Revamped WASH Program
Based on the assessment recommendations and findings, CTA’s Department of Health is developing a long term water security and management activity plans of construction of check dams, percolation ponds and point recharge with funding support from PRM, US State Department. In FY2018-19, the Health Department will be investing over USD520,000 (Approximately INR3.7 crores) in improving access and use of safe water and sanitation infrastructure in Tibetan settlements and schools. A separate WASH section is being created within the Department. More staff is being hired. The Department also plans to hire an external WASH consultant. Most importantly a CTA WASH policy will also be drafted which will guide all WASH projects of the CTA.