Field Visit on Springs and Springshed Management for Reviving Drying Springs, Sikkim


Mountain springs are the primary source of water for millions of people in the mid hills of the Hindu Kush Himalayas (HKH). Both rural and urban communities depend on springs for meeting their drinking, domestic and agricultural water needs. There is anecdotal evidence suggesting that springs are drying up in response to climate change and other socio-economic and demographic changes. Drying of springs and its consequence is a regional phenomenon that cuts across the entire HKH from Afghanistan all the way to Myanmar. As a result mountain communities are facing unprecedented water stress. The exact extent of this problem is not well known given that there are dearth of scientific studies.

Few local and national organizations have started scientific studies and policy advocacy on springs, but more needs to be done, especially given the regional nature of the problem. Of particular significance has been the work done by the Rural Management and Development Department (RM&DD) of Government of Sikkim (GoS) where they demonstrated for the first time that springs can indeed be revived through a good understanding of underlying hydrogeology. 

The Dhara Vikas Program of RM&DD, GoS is now being replicated all across India. Bhutan, another mountainous country, is also facing similar situation where spring water discharge is dwindling. The Royal Government of Bhutan (RGOB) has prioritized spring revival as a part of its forthcoming 12th Five Year Plan. In this context, under the leadership of National Environment Commission and in collaboration with the Watershed Management Division (WMD), the RGoB has nominated 15 Bhutanese participants from various agencies and line departments to visit Sikkim and learn more about the Dhara Vikas program. This 3 day long field visit includes a day of class room orientation in Gangtok, followed by two days of field visits in South Sikkim. ICIMOD is coordinating this knowledge sharing and exchange event between Sikkim and Bhutan.