Affected Local governments concerned about water issues
Twelve local governments affected by the Kamala basin have stressed on multi-purpose water management and identified thee primary goals of the Kamala river basin.
The program is organized by Jalasrot Bikas Sanstha (JVS) and Policy Entrepreneurs Inc. (PEI), for the Water and Energy Commission Secretariat (WECS), and it is supported by Australian Government’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industries Research Organization (CSIRO)
The participants from 12 local governments affected by the Kamala river in Dhanusha, Siraha, Udayapur and Sindhuli districts raised the concerns about water issues and the need for conservation and management of the resources. The study started with the objective of preparing a strategic river basin planning in November 2017 and involves participatory process engaging local communities and local government representatives. This is taken as a pilot river basin planning process before the government prepares the plan for the entire river basins in Nepal. The study ends in June 2019.
In the meetings organized from Monday to Thursday, the 12 local government representatives agreed on the three primary goals and suggested to include multi-purpose water management in the strategic plan. Mayors/Deputy Mayors, Executive Officers, and Planning Officers from Sabaila Municipality, Ganeshnath Charnath Municipality, Kamala Municipality, Sahidnagar Municipality and Janak Nandini Rural Municipality from Dhanusha District; Siraha Municipality, Mirchaiya Municipality, Karjana Municipality and Kalyanpur Municipality from Siraha District; Katari Municipality from Udayapur District; and Kamalamai Municipality and Dudhauli Municipality from Sindhuli District participated in the program. The participants mentioned about the problems of flooding during the monsoon and water scarcity during the winter month and suggested to adopt appropriated policies, regulations, strategies, plans and programs for the proper management of water resources. They also suggested to include multiple uses of water resources for water supply, irrigation, hydropower, agriculture tourism, and industrial use.
All concerned municipalities and rural municipalities identified “sustainable management of Chure natural resources for livelihood support & reduced vulnerability to water-induced disasters” as the first goal; “Improved availability, use, allocation of water resources for livelihood generation, well-being, economic growth” as the second goal; and “Commercial & scientific agriculture for local economic prosperity & livelihood security” as the third goal.
Under the primary goals, following secondary goals were identified: watershed conservation and improvement; sustainable management and utilization of natural resources resources; reliable measurement for effective management; reduced vulnerability from water-induced disasters and control of bank erosion; conservation, development, and management of existing and potential water resources for improving consumptive use, and water use efficiency; agriculture and productivity supportive land use policy and practice; improve farming practice and productivity; promote commercial farming and agriculture market development.
To implement the primary and secondary goals, the participants stressed on the need to develop Sunkoshi-Kamala diversion project; identify and prevent landslide and erosion, plan for Chure conservation; regulate animal grazing, prevent forest fires; regulate sand and gravel extraction; prepare for disaster management, increase water storage, improve irrigation, implement collective farming measures, prevent conversion of productive agricultural land into urban use, build capacity of farmers, promote markets for agricultural products. In addition, the participants discussed issues to protect water sources, build multi-purpose dam structures, improve awareness of citizens in disaster management, construct large physical infrastructure, increase community farming, etc.
Mayor Bijaya Shankar Shah of Sabaila Municipality expressed that if Sunkoshi-Kamala diversion is constructed, Province 2 can go green and also solve the issue of flooding in monsoon, and water scarcity in the winter. Mayor Khadga Bahadur Khatri from Kamalamai Municipality expressed the concerns over the drying of water sources in Sindhuli and mentioned the need to address solutions to such problems in the plan. Mayor Shrawan Kumar Yadav of Mirchaiya Municipality said that the time is running out for collaborative planning of water resources between the central government, provincial government, and the local governments. Deputy Mayor Bhim Kumari Raut of Katari Municipality mentioned that the water scarcity issues are increasing in her municipality and the plans for irrigating fertile lands needs to be put into place. Deputy Mayor Bharati Karki of Janaknandani Municipality expressed concerns over the impacts on the livelihood of citizens due to lack of water availability.
Former Joint-Secretary, Keshav Dhoj Adhikari, and also a member of the study team said that the policies prepared for the Kamala Basin management can address the issues of water management. Senior Divisional Engineer, Maheshwor Shrestha mentioned that the strategy will focus on the balanced water distribution and management for the coming 30 years. Keeping this in mind, WECS will be preparing the short-term, medium-term and long-term plan of the Kamala Basin for the next 30 years.