Field excursion to Sikkim’s spring revival sites


The Rural Management and Development Department (RMDD) of Sikkim has successfully revived several springs and lakes under its Dhara Vikas Initiative, ensuring water security for rural households. Sikkim’s successful method is one that other states in India and neighboring countries facing water shortage are exploring and attempting to replicate. 

The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) organized a filed excursion for 15 Bhutanese representatives to spring revival sites in Sikkim from 7 to 9 November 2017. The excursion was organized in collaboration with RMDD.

The group visited several spring revival sites to see firsthand how spring revival work is being implemented. They travelled to three sites in south Sikkim; in Perbing, they learned about hydrogeology, rock structure, and ways to identify recharge areas for constructing recharge structures. In Omchu, they saw how various recharge structures are constructed, and in Chamchey, they saw the rejuvenated Dolling Lake.

The spring revival programme is about spending most working hours in the field, studying rock structures, soil properties, and the overall landscape. Recharge areas are built only after considering these factors.  

The visiting Bhutanese delegation with the Dhara Vikas field Coordinator in Chamchey, Sikkim 

Close to 90% of the Sikkimese population depends on spring water. In addition to ensuring constant water supply, the Dhara Vikas Initiative, which started in 2008, has successfully turned erstwhile rain-fed areas into fresh vegetable belts where communities are able to grow and sell farm produce.

Bhutan is facing the same problem that Sikkim faced a decade ago, especially in its eastern parts. Hill top lakes, which are usually located above villages, are drying up, taking a toll on the communities that rely on them. During the field excursion, the visiting Bhutanese delegation members expressed eagerness to replicate Sikkim’s spring revival method in their own communities. They were particularly hopeful of the method being successful in Bhutan as Sikkim and Bhutan share similar geographical features. 

The three field excursions were followed by a knowledge sharing workshop in Thimphu, Bhutan on November 15.