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Water Management in North East India

One of the common features of developing countries in the South East Asia is flash flood in urban areas during rainy season and acute shortage of water for domestic and agricultural uses during winter. Rural areas are situated usually at upstream receives adequate rain, with no facilities to conserve the water for winter. North-East India receives high rainfall of an average of 2000 mm a year with a maximum of 11000 mm in Cherrapunjee. Average annual surface water potential of 585.6 km3 has been assessed in this region, which is highest among all the river systems in India and fifth in the world. Out of this, 24.0 km3 is utilizable water and is merely 4.1% of annual surface water potential. Culturable area of the basin is about 13.04 MHa, which is 7.1% of the total culturable area of the country. The Brahmaputra River carries heavy sediment load of the order of 799 million tones per annum (fifth severe most in the world), because of friable nature of the hills in its upstream catchment areas, high intensity of rainfall and seismicity in the region. The distribution of water resources potential in the country shows that as against the national per capita annual availability of water as 2208 m3 the average availability in North East because of Brahmaputra and Barak rivers is as high as 16589 m3. However, this vast water resource remains unutilized and creates problems in the entire region in many ways. This necessitates change in perspective of water management in the region.

Rural hilly areas are there at the upstream receiving end and the urban plain areas are usually at down streams. Most of rain occurs during the monsoon and little or no rains during winter. Occurrence of heavy rains during monsoon causes heavy soil erosion in the upstream rural areas in the hills and flash floods in the downstream urban areas. Winter is marked by drought and subsequent lowering of ground water level, both at upstream hills and downstream plains. The water stress leads to lesser cultivation practice during winter in the upstream rural areas. The conventional approach to solve these problems is to take steps by urban and rural boards and authorities separately. However, this is not a scientific approach, because the rural upstream and urban downstream are related hydrologically and thus necessitates an integrated management practice.

Watershed being a geographical area constituted by locations of hydrological interdependency may be taken up for management to bridge the urban and rural division. Integrated watershed management emphasizes on development and utilization of land, vegetation and water for optimum production. Morphological and hydrological parameters are to be evaluated at first and availability of surface and ground water should be assessed at prominent locations in the watershed. Existing land use practices need to be assessed in detail. Management plans should be participatory and active involvement of the end users is essential. The plans should not aim at altering an existing system rapidly; rather a gradual change of the existing system proves better.

In case of small watersheds, conservation of rainwater for winter season can be achieved by construction of water harvesting ponds at mid slope or at foot of the hills. Pond water may be used for irrigation, fishery etc. This enables cultivation during winter also without aid of any rain. On the other hand, it reduces the peak flood of the rivers during monsoon in the downstream urban areas.

Another reason of flood in plains is the reduced carrying capacity of the rivers due to sedimentation of the eroded soil carried from the upstream rural areas. Agriculture being the common land use of every household, adoption of suitable soil conserving practices of cultivation using terraces and bunds supported by vegetative barriers in the hill slopes is advisable to reduce the chances of soil erosion. Small structures may be constructed across the streams to reduce the flow velocity or grassed waterway may be adopted to reduce the channel erosion. Construction of vegetative barriers, retention structures and dams in the upstream hills could be one of the best ways to achieve the goals of reduced flood peak, enhance groundwater recharge by storing flowing out water in the reservoirs, and develop irrigation schemes. Upon having a high head, the dam will also be able to generate electricity.

It can be realized that water being regulated many ways in the upstream areas, cleaner and more uniform river flow is observed in the downstream plains areas. A proper watershed management practice is the best way to bridge the urban/rural division and arrive at all round development of the region considering the entire North East as a unit. The states of the North East region are separated on political grounds, but all are hydrologically interrelated. It is necessary for all state authorities to come forward to a common platform to address the issues related to water resources in order to chalk out plans for holistic development of the region. It will not only intensify agricultural operations but also will reduce flood, create more avenues for employment in both urban and rural areas, feeling of interdependence and brotherhood and above all peace in the region.

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Benjamin Kaman's picture


a medhi's picture

Suggestions made through the article are superb for the entire NE, particularly for the Brahmaputra valley as bearing annual flood injuries. To implement the innovative suggestions, a project report with feasibility study incorporating all aspects particularly ecological assessment, a presentation in power point needs to be given to the hon'ble CM, Assam and other NE states including planning commissioners. Expert consultant (may be foreign based) having past experience in this field may be invited to finalize.
Mrinmoy Boruah's picture

Can there be some effort by people outide governments ? NGO, local development society etc. through some self-financing arrangement ? Government runs by the governing minsters and bosses -who at most of the time do not possess required quality, knowledge and wisdom to work on such long term permanent solutions. If we keep looking forward to these people to solve our problem -may be we will remain frustrated and will enrich the media people with our gossip purchase attitudes! 'hope we all can do something on our own!
Anil Kumar Bhuyan's picture

Suggestions included need seriously be viewed..priority is to be paid to the reduced carrying capacity of the the instant Assam is the main sufferer and it has to exert to find some ways and means to solve the problem.. frequent change of courses of the rivers resulting with unaccountable damages occur in Assam and other states have least to bother..attention of the Central Govt. in the matter is inevitable though..problem is ours..

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Tve takes hepatitis science to communities

20 May 2016 - 7:38am | AT New Delhi

Television Trust for Environment or TVE is launching an ambitious year-long project helping communities in two Indian cities to combat one of the world’s most deadly, but little publicised, diseases - viral hepatitis on May 21.
Films for Change: taking hepatitis science to communities through film’ harnesses the power of film and the creativity of young new filmmakers in a bold new public health venture supported by the Wellcome Trust and the World Hepatitis Alliance.
In Lucknow and Mumbai, young filmmakers will join eminent hepatologists, patients, NGOs and an experienced filmmaker in an intensive exploration of the latest science and debates about ways of combating viral hepatitis. They’ll then pitch proposals for short documentaries to expert panels which will choose two winning proposals at each location and award bursaries to turn those ideas into reality. The four winning films will be screened in Mumbai and Lucknow, along with panel discussions involving local communities, filmmakers and scientists. The films will also be available online.
Anshul Ojha, tve’s programme manager in South Asia, said: ‘We know that film has the power to change people’s understanding of health and disease in the poorest of communities, as well as to affect policymaking. Through this project, our young filmmakers will show people what science can mean in combating hepatitis and how they can use new science to stop this deadly disease.’ 
Charles Gore, President of the World Hepatitis Alliance, said: ‘Despite the fact that viral hepatitis kills 1.4 million people every year, making it the 7th biggest killer globally, hepatitis has simply never had the exposure needed to make it a public health priority. The involvement of creative people who can tell the story of hepatitis in a compelling way is absolutely vital in changing this inexplicable neglect.’ 
Helen Latchem, International Engagement Advisor at the Wellcome Trust, said: ‘We are pleased to be supporting a project exploring such an important health issue with audiences in India. It is fantastic that it will result in creative short films which can be used to further discussion about hepatitis, while also helping junior researchers and young filmmakers develop their skills.’
tve will be working in Lucknow with Dr Rakesh Aggarwal and Dr Amit Goel at the Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences; and in Mumbai with Dr Samir Shah at the Institute of Liver Diseases, Hepatopancreatobiliary Surgery and Transplant at the Global Hospital, and Dr Akash Shukla at Seth G.S. Medical College and King Edward Memorial (KEM) Hospital.


Events carry the prestige of Assam far and wide: ULFA [I] on FIFA U-17 World Cup

5 Oct 2017 - 4:54pm | Syed Miraz Ahmed

The proscribed United Liberation Front of Asom [ULFA-Independent] expresses delight in the arrival of the under seventeen Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) World Cup soccer matches in homeland Assam.

“I, on behalf of my organisation, thank FIFA for bringing International Football to this remote part of the world and a warm welcome to the FIFA officials and players of different nations to Assam,” states Abhizeet Asom, the elusive Chairman of the outfit.

He believes that the people of Assam will immensely benefit by the experience, learning about international standards in football by witnessing the ways and manners of the teenage players from different countries and the cultural exchanges that is likely to take place.

The outfit is optimistic in that the citizens of Assam with their characteristic generous nature that the state is famous for would open their hearts to the international citizens of tomorrow with exemplary hospitality so that they can remember Assam fondly.​

We in the organisation would be very grateful if our citizens cooperate with the organizers of the sporting event in all areas of the organisational matters for the same and help in maintaining peace and order and prevent any attempt by miscreants to damage the reputation of Assam, he adds.​

“Each and every citizen of Assam must remember the ​at  such events carry the prestige of Assam far and wide,” Asom concludes in a communiqué.

SSB celebrates 53rd Raising Day

19 Dec 2016 - 10:23pm | Shajid Khan

The 37th Battalion of the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) deployed at Indo-Bhutan border of Udalguri district celebrated the 53rd raising day anniversary on Monday.

On the occasion, a friendly volleyball match was held at Mangaldoi town club . A football match was also played between Geleidingi eleven stars and SSB troops. Commandant, Shiv Gopal Shukla, congratulated all the members of the force and their families on the occasion. A K Mallik, Deputy Inspector General, SHQ, SSB Tezpur graced the occasion as special guest.

The Sandiksha member of 37th Bn, SSB displayed their skills in various events, which was followed by the ‘Badakhana’ at the Battalion HQ and all the border outposts of the unit deployed along the Indo-Bhutan border.

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