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Conflict over water use flares in Godavari



ponds filled from rainwater at the FRD as locals facing drinking water crisis blocked water resources flowing across their villages in 2008. Photo- Nirjana Sharma

Ponds filled from rainwater at the FRD as locals facing drinking water crisis blocked water resources flowing across their villages in 2008. Photo- Nirjana Sharma

With the rampant urbanization of the Godavari area, which is known for its richness in water resources, a conflict between the locals and the government about the use of water has surfaced.

The locals dislike presence of Fisheries Research Development (FRD) in the area, as Godavari, located 9 km east of Satdobato, dips into water crisis with stone spouts in the neighborhood fast drying up.

Though the locals had been cooperating with the FRD, which is under the National Agricultural Research Council (NARC), an apex body for agricultural research in the country, the situation turned worse in 2008 when the villagers decided to block all water resources flowing naturally across the villages in the area.

The people of Maandanda, Bistachhap, Patlechhap, Itachor, Sotikuwa and Dolbhangeri complained at their respective VDC offices that they were lacking drinking water at a time when the fish farm was using all water resources in the area in freewheeling manner.

According to Hari Krishna Bista, a resident of Bistachhap, the consumers´ committee of the Bisankhunarayan VDC had made the decision to divert the water resource from the FRD when the locals were forced to go to other villages in search of drinking water.

Today, all these villages have separate consumers´ committees to ensure drinking water from the same source. However, the available resources have now again become inadequate for 900 households of those villages.

“The consumers´ committee initially provided tap water every two days, which has now reduced to only two hours a week,” said Bista, adding, “Whatever we have been receiving is not sufficient though, we have to pay to the committee Rs 100 per month.”

At the same time, the research work and trainings for the farmers on fish farming have declined to the lowest since the date of its establishment.

In 1988, the NARC for the first time introduced fresh water species of fish in Nepal, bringing the trout fry from Japan. After 10 years of regular study and experiment, the trout finally reached the private fish farms and individual farmers in the country.

“When I first saw the volume of water used by FRD 10 years ago, I felt the water resources were never going to vanish,” says Suresh Kumar Wagle, director general of FRD. Undoubtedly, worsening water in places like this is worrisome, he added.

In between 1999 to 2008, the Division not only met the demand of fry for farmers of several districts but also sold the rainbow trout and other local species to the markets.

“People used to line-up to buy the rainbow trout that gained market within a short time,” mentioned Wagle, adding, “Though we still bring a few thousand trout fry that is ready to be eaten in a year or 14 months, only few hundred survive and reach the market during the dry season,” said Wagle. Cold and clean water best suits trout fish, which is also known as fresh water fish.

The new comers who are planning to build their home inside the Valley might put the Godavari on top priority, but the urbanization has started showing adverse effect in the area, says Bista.

He added that the locals during several rounds of discussion with FRD officials have made it clear that they want the office to be removed from the area.

With the ground water level shrinking, locals of central Lalitpur find water only under 30 feet from the surface. The Godavari locals fear further decline in ground water level if bore wells are installed at the FRD premises.

Meanwhile, Januka Kuinkel, a resident of Godavari, mentions that the locals expected the office to sell them fishes at lesser price.

“Drinking water problem in the villages is real, but some powerful people over there provoked the locals,” said Kuinkel, who is working as an office assistant at the FRD for seven years.

After successful experiments and the established facts that trout could be reared in 54 districts with cold rivers and stream-suitable for trout, the production graph is ever increasing. However, the experts say that the result could have been far better had they continued research works in Godavari.

Trout production data of Nepal
Year Quantity (metric ton)
2001- 6
2002- 16.2
2003- 14.2
2004- 16.8
2005- 18.2
2006- 26
2007- 55
2008- 82
2009- 88
2010- 135
2011- 160
2012- 180
2013- 225 (Estimated)

Source: Republica Daily


Published on 2013-08-14 23:51:11

About nirjanasharma

Nepali Journalist.

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