Water is a major challenge for our entire country at present. It has become a political issue in most places. Under such circumstances, thousands of kilometers away from Delhi, in the Sitamari district of Bihar an amazing initiative for water conservation has been launched. Keeping in view the water crisis in Latur of Maharashtra, the District Magistrate of Sitamarhi has installed 2168 soak pits in the district in a single day! This is a record in itself, drawing applause for the DM from various quarters.
One day prior to the Earth Day on 21st April, the district administration in Sitamarhi, along with the District Water and Hygiene Committee and with the help of UNICEF Bihar, constructed 2168 soak pits in the district. This is the first time when not only in Bihar but also in the entire country such a measure for water conservation has been launched. Under this initiative, the schools, madarssas, private schools, angabadis, health centers, police stations and division offices were covered.
Water is a precious resource, to conserve it is the responsibility of all:
During conversation with the DM, he revealed that when he tried to implement the Clean India Mission and “open-defecation free community” included in the seven aims of Bihar in the schools and other places, he realized that there was water-logging at various places. Water was being wasted at a time when there is news about water shortage in various parts of India. Hence, they started to take measures to prevent wastage of water because it is a precious natural resource; “it is our joint responsibility to conserve it.”
At present, no water crisis is apparent in Sitamarhi, but there is a need to be cautious while there is still time. Hence, the administration decided to get 2168 soak pits constructed in the district along with hand-pumps and taps. In this UNICEF provided technical assistance.
Through the medium of these soak pits, there will be an end to water-borne diseases as well. Since the initiative has begun in schools, there will be a direct bearing on the school going kids. Through them the message of water conservation and sanitation will be disseminated to the masses. Giving information about this process, the DM said that under this initiative 11 000 teachers of the district have been trained together with letting the children know about the advantages of this method. This is the result of mass community effort.
The initiative made possible through DM’s energy efficiency:
The Commissioner of Tirhuta Commission, Atul Prasad, said that constructing 2168 soap pits in a single day was a major initiative in its own, whose credit undeniably goes to the District Magistrate. His energy efficiency drive has not only shown Sitamarhi but also the entire country the way to water conservation, because this is an initiative in which water conservation can be made at a large scale at low cost. It is to be noted that the installation of one soak-pit costs between Rs 2500 to Rs 5000.
Mr Prasad also asserted that in the rural areas groundwater is used as drinking water in 85% of the cases, but in the past few years there has been depletion in groundwater level. Keeping this in view, under the Clean India Mission, the initiative for water drainage and recharging of groundwater has been launched. Giving the example of Latur, he said that right now, in order to solve the water crisis there, trains laden with water are being reached to Latur by the government. Due to this initiative launched by district administration in Sitamarhi, in one year water equivalent to 500 trains of water, which amounts to around 26 crore liter, will be conserved.
Climbed down the pit himself to conduct an investigation:
Praveen More, the Wash expert of UNICEF Bihar said that he had first met the DM in Khagaria. Before starting any initiative he himself studies it minutely. He has been successful because he is able to take the masses along with him while at the same time himself working. According to More, during the installation drive, the DM would himself inspect the construction sites at any hour of the day or night. This inspired the people engaged in the construction. Once he himself climbed down a pit and started installing bricks there.
Four Panchayats made open-defecation free:
The DM has been successful in making four Panchayats open-defecation free at the call of our Prime Minister. Sitamarhi’s Siroli, Marpa, Hariharpur and South Nanpur Panchayats have been made free of open-defecation through the joint efforts of UNICEF and district administration. Consequently, the people there are not forced to resort to open defecation.
This work was completed on 26th January this year within the 45-day bound limit. Nipun Gupta, the communication expert of UNICEF has said that they are trying to spread this message to society for the future welfare of children themselves, so that in the coming time they can provide a healthy and clean environment to the kids.
What is a soak-pit?
A soak pit plays a major role in groundwater conservation and water table recharge. A soak-pit is a deep ditch made near a water resource in which water used by taps go and recharge the groundwater level.
What is the advantage of a soak-pit?
Through the medium of the soak-pit, on the one hand, there will be no pollution around 2100 water resources and availability of enough water, while on the other hand, 8 to 10 lakh liter water will be refilled. Due to these soak-pits water-borne diseases will also be contained. Since the initiative has been launched in schools, it will have a direct bearing on school kids through whom the message of water conservation and sanitation will be spread to society at large.
The Logical Indian community hails the District Magistrate of Sitamarhi for his vision to prevent a problem which is looming large over our entire country. We wish that administrations elsewhere in India would also follow suit and try to undertake community-based measures to solve the problem of groundwater depletion which is threatening our country.