ECOSS awareness programme on Namcheybong watershed projects

Gangtok, 01 Aug:

An awareness programme on “Springshed-based Watershed Development Project at 25-Namcheybong GPU” was held at Gram Prashashan Kendra in Pakyong on 31 July.

A press release from Ecotourism and Conservation Society of Sikkim [ECOSS] informs that the Pre Project Implementation Phase [PPIP] of the project is being executed in four wards of Namcheybong, East Sikkim viz Raigaon, Naibutar, Basilakha and Pricklakha. The project is being executed by ECOSS and supported by National Bank for Agricultural and Rural Development [NABARD].

These projects seek to address two major water related problems experienced in the NE Region namely heavy/intense rainfall and surface run-off during monsoons leading to soil erosion/siltation/ pollution of water bodies downstream and drought situation in the months of Feb-Apr leading to acute scarcity of water for spring season crops.

These two extreme eventualities need to be managed to enhance agricultural productivity, augmenting income and preventing degradation of soil and water, which can be best addressed by watershed programmes modelled around the “Dhaara Vikas” programme of Sikkim.

The meeting, which was chaired by former Chairperson Agriculture/Horticulture Development Board, DN Sapkota, was attended by 60 participants.

Chief Executive Officer, ECOSS, Rajendra P Gurung, gave a brief background of the project components highlighting the importance of water security and water management in the village.

Project Coordinator/Researcher ECOSS, Uden Lhamu Bhutia, presented a report on the baseline survey and community discussion that had been conducted during the preliminary phase of the project and also shared the progress of the project.

The first intervention of the project included site visits to various springs and water sources in the region followed by a discussion with community members.

The release adds that the Pre-Project Implementation Phase is almost over which included formation of a Village Watershed Committee and an Entry Point Activity consisting of the construction of Waste Collection Centres within the four wards to improve the sanitation and waste management situation in the GPU.

General Secretary [Hailkhola Watershed Management Committee], Ashok Subba, spoke on the increasing water scarcity being faced by the villagers of the four wards during winter and spring. He also highlighted the growing issue of random water tapping from the main source Hail Khola and emphasized on the aspect of community participation and ownership and water management.

Sub Divisional Magistrate, Pakyong, Tenzing D Denzongpa, highlighted on the role of the community to make the programme a success. Citing the example of Dhara Vikas, he held that similar sustainable measures need to be sought to alleviate the issue of water scarcity.

District Forest Officer, East [Territorial], Nischal Gautam, shared his earlier experience of Dhara Vikas initiatives in Kaluk-Rinchenpong.

He further pointed out the importance of protecting the crowns of hills by growing water conserving species like oaks and the role of traditional knowledge for water conservation. He stated that the demand of the community for removal of pine trees in the upper regions of the GPU and replacement by appropriate species was under consideration and could be done in a phased manner.

Field Facilitator, Dhara Vikas, KB Chettri, gave a presentation on the concept and practice of Dhara Vikas. The aquifer characteristics, dip direction and bedding in the rocks and the type of springs needs to be understood to identify the recharge area of the springs, he added.

SIRD faculty, CB Manger, highlighted on Village Water Security Plan of the Government and requested the villagers to avail for the water testing facility being provided by SIRD.

Chairperson, Mr Sapkota, exhorted the community members to seize the opportunity being provided and come forward to participate fully for the successive implementation of the project.