1st World Water Day observed in Nagaland
KOHIMA, MARCH 22
Joining the rest of the world, the Sustainable Development Forum of Nagaland (SDFN) today organized World Water Day 2014 for the first time in the state, in collaboration with the regional centre National Afforestation and Eco-Development Board and the state departments of Soil & Water Conservation and Power. The day-long programme, held in the conference hall of Hotel Japfü, Kohima was put together with a view to address water concerns on the theme ‘Water and Energy’.
Nagaland State Women Commission (NSCW) chairperson, Dr. Temsula Ao who graced the opening session as the chief guest, in her address emphasized on the importance of water in the maintenance and wellbeing of life, and voiced concern on the alarming shortage of water worldwide.
In the context of Nagaland, she said in the past the streams from which water was extracted were nurtured as sacred sites and were guarded by village laws for its purity. But, she said, the present context of long rows of empty containers lined up to water springs bring a lot of questions to mind as to whether the people are guilty of neglecting to ensure proper distribution of water, and why the people have not taken rain harvesting seriously. Stating that the people are facing with man-made shortage of water which, she expressed concern, could lead to social disruptions, Dr. Temsula underscored the need for a deep introspection to be able to come out with workable solutions.
During the technical session, Gautam Banerjee from central Rain Forest Research Institute, in his presentation highlighted ‘Kohima Water Study’ which was conducted in catchment areas of main rivers and tributaries in Kohima district to assess the value of forests in providing water supply to the people of the capital town.
He noted that the citizens of Kohima suffer from water scarcity and the perennial water resources are no more adequate to meet the requirement of growing population of the state capital. He also highlighted about water sources in and around the town, the PHED and private water supply, as well as responses regarding shortage of water supply in Kohima.
After thorough deliberations on the papers presented on various topics including Banerjee’s ‘Kohima Water Study’, ‘Water and Biodiversity’ by Dr. Limatemjen Longchar, assistant professor KSC Jotsoma, ‘Water, Rain and Data’ by Vengota Nakro, joint director for Soil & Water Conservation Nagaland, and ‘Water and Energy’ by Er. Keviletuo Yiese, SE department of Power, the house formulated ways forward and suggested measures and recommendations for the state government to adopt so as to improve livelihood of the people.The need to conduct research and studies on women and water, quality of drinking water, study of key catchment areas and river ecosystem in Nagaland, and revival of traditional water springs are some points that were stressed upon. It was also recommended that each village be encouraged to have vision documents. The need for the state government to have a concrete plan on rain water harvesting system and frame a state Environment & Forest policy was also noted since the national policy in this regard is deemed “not applicable” to the state due to the difference in land holdings system.
Other concerns that were outlined include the need for the government to check on random issue of mining license, the development of a policy for equity sharing instead of compensation for land etc. The house also recommended that the export of unfinished forest products from the state be stopped, the need to iron out conflicting policies etc.
Meanwhile, former Chief Secretary & Advisor SDFN, Alemtemshi Jamir in his concluding remark said that climate change is a reality and what will happen is unpredictable, and stressed on the need to start thinking of new policies.
Earlier in the day, SDFN chairperson and Commissioner & Secretary, Menukhol John delivered the welcome address while SDFN executive secretary, Amba Jamir gave an introduction to the World Water Day 2014.
World Water Day is held annually on March 22 since 1993, drawing attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. UN-Water has been responsible for selecting the theme, messages and lead UN agency for the World Day for Water. This year the UN-Water selected the theme ‘Water & Energy’ with the following key messages–Water requires energy and energy requires water; Supplies are limited and demand is increasing; Saving energy is saving water and Saving water is saving energy; The “bottom billion” urgently needs access to both water and sanitation services, and electricity; and Improving water and energy efficiency is imperative as are coordinated, coherent and concerted policies.