Sikkim has made commendable efforts in bringing in effective changes in the state’s water resources condition. New schemes and honest implementation has definitely brought in reforms in the sector. The state is also making strides with innovative ideas in its governance. Sikkim was ranked 23rd in SKOCH State of Governance 2018 whereas it stood at 20th in 2017. The state has been “Catching Up” with its ideas and innovations.
Springs are the only source of domestic water supply for rural habitations scattered across 900 m to 2500 metre in south and west Districts of Sikkim. The area falls under the rain shadow of Darjeeling hills and larger rivers flow hundreds of metres below with no scope of utilisation. Unfortunately, the mountain ranges don’t have snowcapped peaks either to support perennial streams. Recently, several anthropogenic and natural factors like climate change have exerted immense pressure on these scarce water resources. Most of the springs are drying up leading to acute water scarcity during the lean season. The outcome of the prevailing situation has adversely affected the villagers especially the women and children living in the rural areas as they have to spend the best part of their time fetching water for household needs. This has also affected the agricultural practices and livestock management. The impact is apparently in their economic condition, health, and hygiene at the household level and in rural schools and other institutions.
Recognising the urgent need for ensuring water security, the Rural Management and Development Department initiated the ‘Dhara Vikas’ initiative to revive the state’s drying lakes, springs, and streams. The estimates suggest that less than 15 per cent rainfall percolates down the soil to recharge the aquifers and rest is lost as surface runoff. The core thrust of Dhara Vikas is to catch the surface runoff water and use it to recharge groundwater sources. This initiative to enhance the hydrological contribution of the mountain ecosystem has been able to recharge 1035 million litres of ground water annually covering 637 ha and has resulted in the revival of 51 springs and 4 lakes with an investment of S2.80 crore in 20 drought prone Gram Panchayats.
Besides this project, another laudable effort by the Sikkim government has been the National Enterprise Portal. The portal and the services offered on the cyber platform are “enablers” and facilitate custom online service delivery aligned with the requirements and need of the entrepreneur in an effective and efficient manner. Information relating to the profile of the entrepreneurs/startups are maintained and such archived information sets, are leveraged by the system in customising service delivery and the portal makes the information available to the stakeholders/beneficiaries from any location and at any time.
A database of over 7500 registered skill aspirants, 41 training providers, 62 training courses, 1176 placements and 796 persons undergoing counselling are available on the portal. About 24 start-ups have commenced operations in Sikkim over the last two years in different sectors like Agro-based, Tourism, Travel and Trade and Hospitality Sectors. The state with dedicated and futuristic approach seem geared up to make its mark in information technology.