Scarcity amidst plenty – Water In North East India

Water ecosystems in India’s North East are taking on a visible shift due to the impact of climate change and human interventions – seasons and rainfall patterns change, rivers running dry, springs that were thought to be sacred no longer sustain communities whose livelihood depends on the existing water system to provide livestock needs, agriculture and household activities. Drilling deeper borewells has become a desperate last resort for communities with no other
options. Communities are forced to abandon livelihoods that depend heavily on water.
The North East States, over the decade have witnessed ‘water poverty’. Though most parts of the Region receive ample rainfall during the monsoon, water resources in the region are exposed to a number of challenges that continue to get aggravated: climate change leading to floods, droughts, soil erosion etc., increasing demand for water (arising due to population growth, unplanned urbanisation and economic development), deforestation or unsustainable land use in the upper reaches of the mountains which leads to excess surface water runoff, depletion of top soil; increasing competition for water use, lack of ownership and regard for the existing regulations, deficient operation and maintenance of the water infrastructure and absent cost recovery structures, have all contributed to the challenge.