|Artificial glacier through check dams|
From 2015, a Tata Trusts project, in collaboration with the villagers, facilitated the construction of artificial glaciers in the four villages. Building an artificial glacier involves work on steep mountain slopes, with heavy headloads, in extreme conditions, and at altitudes 4,500m above mean sea level. Each household in the four villages contributed at least one person towards labour and work continued for 15 days at a stretch in each location. The Trusts contributed materials such as cement and metallic nets while villagers contributed labour.
A series of stone bunds were built in each village, particularly in the shady parts of streams. The bunds impeded the flow of water, making shallow pools that freeze in winters. The process of ice formation continues during winter months and a huge reserve of ice accumulates on the mountain slope, aptly termed as an ‘artificial glacier’. The artificial glaciers are located at lower altitudes as compared to natural ones so that they start to melt much earlier as compared to a natural glacier, ie, in the month of April, and supplements meltwater. Artificial glaciers have proved to be a simple, cost-effective and unique technique for harnessing and conserving water in high-altitude་ regions.
The whole process of building the glacier was participatory — the community was involved in the decision-making and construction. The glacier-building activity can be replicated in water-starved villages of Leh and in other high-altitude areas to partially offset effects of receding glaciers and decreasing meltwater. Water distribution to farmers is taken care of by the traditional water-sharing systems of the villagers.
The four villages of Nang, Takmachik, Igoo and Umla have benefitted from the glacier-building activity.