GOALPARA: The Goalpara district administration, under the guidance of Deputy Commissioner VarnaliDeka, received on Wednesday the prestigious National Water Award, 2019 under the category of Water Conservation, Best District in the Northeast.
The National Water Awards ceremony has been organized by the Ministry of Jal Shakti at the prestigious VigyanBhavan, New Delhi to honour excellence in water management and conservation across the nation. The award ceremony will conclude on Thursday. The ceremony was inaugurated by the Vice-President of India, Venkaiah Naidu and was attended by many experts and luminaries. The award was presented by Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, Minister for Jal Shakti, Government of India.
Goalpara district has been doing commendable work in the area of water conservation and water management. To inculcate values of water conservation in the new generation and to enhance guardian engagement and community participation, Goalpara district has been installing Rain Water Harvesting and Ground Water recharge schemes in various Anganwadis.
In November, 2019, Chief Minister SarbanandaSonowal inaugurated the first model Anganwadi Centre funded through local CSR and crowd sourcing at Budhipara near Agia in Goalpara. Through CSR funding and local crowd sourcing, the district has also been installing water purifiers in schools across Goalpara.
The district has also been dovetailing schemes of various departments, including District Rural Development Agency (MGNREGA), Soil Conservation, Irrigation and Fisheries for creation of assets for water conservation and management and new livelihood opportunities for agriculturists, women, youth and seniors of the district. Creation of embankments and strategically placed check dams also increased the irrigation potential of this aspirational district.
Goalpara's efforts in the conservation and rejuvenation of UrpadBeel - one of the largest water bodies of lower Assam with an area of 520 hectares - have been exemplary. The beel plays host to many exotic, aquatic flora as well as fauna, including some endangered species. Along with Patakata and MatiaBeels, the total wetland area is 1000 hectares.
Sightings of 24 exotic species such as the White Wind wood duck from Siberia, Greater adjutant stork have been reported here. The beel also finds mention in the Bombay Natural History Society listings. The beel has been prone to erosion and siltation leading to shrinkage in carrying capacity and also unfettered growth of water hyacinth. The district administration, along with many other developmental departments such as ZillaParishad, DRDA, Public Works Department, Fisheries, Irrigation, Soil Conservation, Forest and Social Forestry Departments have been creating awareness amongst the local people.
The administration has also carried out eviction activities to free the wetland areas from potentially damaging encroachment. The administration, along with stakeholders, also carried out a three-day Participatory Rural Appraisal activity from September 25 to September 27, 2019 along with seven adjacent villages. Under the aegis of Assam State Bio-Diversity Board and Assam Forest Department, capacities of stakeholders on nature conservation are being built up. The administration is also creating new livelihood opportunities under MGNREGA. The entire wetland boundary has been surveyed using GPS and demarcated to prevent further encroachment or depredation of the beel. The ministry has lauded the district's efforts in this regard.