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Rejuvenating springs to beat water shortage in Nagaland

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By Reyivolü Rhakho Updated: Sep 30, 2021 1:14 am
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Springshed management project successfully implemented in 96 villages

A file photo of villagers fetching water.(Neida)

Our Correspondent
Kohima, Sep. 29 (EMN): Sensing the acute shortage of water across Nagaland, stakeholders comprising government departments, non-governmental organisations and technical experts from the state came together three years ago to address the issue by way of rejuvenating springs.

Today, 96% of the project has been implemented in rural areas across the state.

The project — ‘Multi-stakeholder to provide drinking water security through springshed management in 100 rural villages of Nagaland’– covering all the then 11 districts, is a convergence model implemented by Land Resource department (LRD), Rural Development (RD) department, North East Initiative Development Agency (Neida), People’s Science Institute (PIS), Dehradun, and Advanced Centre for Water Resource Development and Management (ACWADAM), Pune.

The project timeline was from April 2018 to September 2021, and hence an end consultative meeting of the mission was held in Kohima on Wednesday.

106 springs rejuvenated

State Co-ordinator of Neida, Sentimongla Kechuchar informed that it could implement spring rejuvenation in 96 villages covering 106 springs.

A total of 295 springs were inventorised in 11 districts, 23 blocks covering 11,917 households benefitting more than 60,000 people.

Presenting district-wise household coverage, she informed that Wokha district topped with 2826 households benefitting from the project, followed by Mokokchung (1691), Mon (1453), Zunheboto (1099), Longleng (1058), Tuensang (869), Kiphire (843), Phek (665), Peren (651), Kohima (432), and Dimapur (330).

Other key achievements included community mobilisation, social, hydrogeological and engineering, and surveys completed in 100 villages. Cadre of 100 data collectors trained at the village level and regular hydrological data collection in 96 villages were completed.

The total financial contribution towards the project was INR 5.54 crore. In this, LRD and RD contributed 34% each while Neida contributed 32%, she informed.

Commissioner and Secretary of LRD, Vikeyie Kenya observed that Nagaland is experiencing global warming issue, climate change, environment degradation, air and water pollution and water scarcity along with the rest of the world.

‘The steep terrain in most places pose problems for rain water harvesting and storage, both overground and underground, as most rain water escapes as runoff. Further, human activities and exploitations have added problems for water conservation, leading to depletion to restore and recharge springs through different approaches. Thus, springshed has become a very important programme,’ the official pointed out.

The LRD first initiated the springshed development programme in the state on a pilot basis targeting one village in each of the then 11 districts during 2016-17 with technical support from PIS, Dehradun and ACWADAM, Pune, Kenya informed.

Today, the department has well established infrastructure software and hardware to support planning and monitoring watershed and springshed management besides having a GIS cell and field laboratories, 33 Asst. Inspectors, watershed development team members (WDTS) and 13 officers trained as para-hydrogeologist through state-level nodal agencies and by experts from PIS, Dehradun and ACWADAM, Pune.

These trained groups of officers can now take up any kind of activities concerning the springshed management, the official informed.

Having successfully completed the pilot project, the department took up watershed-based springshed development programmes to more villages with support from National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard) under National Mission on Himalayan Studies (NMHS), state schemes.

To further scale up springshed development, the project to provide drinking water security through springshed management in 100 villages in rural areas was taken up.

“To initiate any intervention on springs, data on the authenticity of the springs was required. This has prompted the department to come up with the inventorisation of the springs in all the settlement of the state which comes to 2,361 springs using modern equipment and published a ‘Springshed Atlas of Nagaland’ in 2018 which is a major initiative of the department. Further, the department has also come up with the development of 11 customised automated weather stations (CAWS) in the state.

“Having accomplished a desired goal in convergence of resources for springshed management in the state, the department looks forward to working together with various agencies/government possessing requisite experiences in springshed management in days to come,” he said.

“With doable policy support at the national and state levels on springshed management in hilly regions like Nagaland, the springshed management hopefully, would be able to ensure water security to the people of the state and turn vulnerable communities into climate smart communities,” he added.

 ‘Water area in default positions’

Director of LRD, Renben Lotha said that in Nagaland, there is ‘no shortage of water and there shouldn’t be’. The only issue is that the water area is in the “default position” or “wrong places”. This is because of anthropogenic issues, which makes it difficult to identify the catchment areas, he said.

As a way forward, the officer said that the department is trying to advocate springshed development even at the Union Ministry level, from the state point of view, as springs are available in Nagaland. He also informed that a “new generation” of water programme-watershed and springshed development, would be launched in October this year.

Informing about the department’s upcoming plans and initiative, he said it has partnered with Kohima Science College, Jotsoma, for procuring chemicals and accordingly, department will place funds for the chemicals. It will also focus on developing 1500 springs.

‘Key success of implementing springshed management is changing the mindset. There is a need to bring a paradigm shift in the way community people look at springs. The others being capacity building at the grassroots level, upgrading skills and strengthening of village institution’, he observed.

‘80% dependent on natural springs’

Director of Rural Development, Liboni Humtsoe informed that 80% of people are dependent on natural springs in Nagaland.

‘Most springs are drying up and departments should be more realistic in taking up such programmes,’ she said, adding that 79 villages have submitted their financial contributions amounting to INR 1.75 crore while some villages are yet to submit it. 

She recommended proper implementation, planning, and co-ordination between departments and agencies, while funding needs to be more specific for the success of the project.

‘Covered most water-stressed villages’

Commissioner and Secretary Rural Development, Neposo Theluo said that springshed management is a “very relevant” project because springs were the only source of drinking water for the people of the state in olden times and even today.

Initially, 36 villages were selected but 64 more villages were selected in the following year, totalling to 100 villages. The project has covered most of the water-stressed villages and has started yielding benefits, he informed.

‘Now, the project has been completed in 96 villages while 4% could not be completed due to various reasons. Yet, 96% is a good achievement. Further, it could also rejuvenate 106 springs,’ Theluo added.

To address the (private) landowners’ issue, he suggested that water sources in the community land can be identified. Further, the springshed management can be used to promote agriculture and farming.

‘As for funding, there should not be much difficulty as the project is not big,’ he said.

He urged the stakeholders to release funds on time to complete the project. He also called upon all the stakeholders to have a plan, co-ordinate and converge in the future.

Earlier, district teams of both the departments shared their experiences, lessons learnt, challenges as well as recommendations.

6135
By Reyivolü Rhakho Updated: Sep 30, 2021 1:14:22 am