SIKKIM SPRINGS

ENSURING RURAL WATER SECURITY

Rural Management & Development Department, Government of Sikkim, India
 
  • Springs constitute the primary natural source of water in Sikkim. Planning, development and management of springs is the main motive behind the spring shed development program.
  • Springs are drying up and also become seasonal. So, the Spring Shed Development Program focuses on - 
  1. Increasing the discharge of the spring.
  2. Increasing the duration of discharge of the spring.
Spring Shed Development
Water is  increasingly becoming a critical ingredient for sustainable development. In Sikkim, village water sources (Mohaan, Kuan and Dhara) have been traditionally playing a vital role in providing water security to nearly 80% of the
Springs-shed development at Kaluk
 rural households. These springs get recha
Objectives
Springs-shed development program (Dhara Vikash)

rged from the sub-surface flow or from the rain-water that percolates down.
          However over the years, many of these springs are drying up or becoming seasonal and the discharge during the lean season is declining. These have reduced the “sponge action” of the land and consequently limited rainwater percolates down creating a hydrological imbalance in some of the watersheds. It has been estimated that less than 15% of the rainwater is able to percolate down through deforested slopes to recharge the springs, while the remaining flows down causing floods. It has also been forecasted that global warming and climate change will further adversely impact the spring water resources

            In order to map and document the status of these water sources the preparation of “Village Spring Atlas” has been initiated. Information pertaining to each spring like its location, elevation, catchment status, land ownership, discharge, households dependent etc is being collected to prepare the water source atlas of the state. Global Positioning System (GPS) is being used for field survey so that the spring maps can be prepared on a GIS platform.

  Springs-shed development at Teendharey source, Duga

          WWF-India and People’s Science Institute, Dehradun are providing active support to the Rural Management and Development Department to build the capacity of the manpower. Also development of critical spring under the banner of “Dhara Vikas (Spring-shed Development)” under NREGA has also been initiated.
         The scientific principle of the Dhara Vikas programme is to reduce the speed of the running water through measures like development of the catchment of the spring, use of soil moisture conservation works, vegetative and other similar social measures. In layman term, every drop of rain water needs to be conserved where it falls, the “running” water needs to be trained to “walk”, and the “walking” water needs to be trained to “rest” for a while. Soil moisture conservation works will include digging staggered trenches and pits along contours, gully plugging, bunding of terraces and making them inward sloping, de-silting of existing, dried up ponds and lakes. Vegetative measures will include plantation of low water demanding and shallow-rooted grass/shrubs/trees. Social measures will include ban on grazing, fuel wood and fodder cutting and social fencing of the recharge area.
   These measures will help in ensuring that the surface runoff of rain water in the spring shed is reduced, and more water percolates down to recharge the spring. This paradigm shift in water source development works will entail rejuvenating the spring shed (Mohan ko seer), while not disturbing the water source and will help in ensuring long term water security for the villages of Sikkim