Case Study: IAS officer who has a solution to water crisis

Case Study: IAS officer who has a solution to water crisis


The Case

Water shortage was a common problem in Alipurduar district. Located in the foothills of the Eastern Himalayas, Alipurduar district of North Bengal has several wildlife sanctuaries and national parks. However, the decline in ground water level over the years has created a crisis in many parts of the district. Lack of resources and getting support from the local people was a big challenge for the district administration and DM Surendra Kumar Meena. Can good governance revive water bodies, provide a solution to the water crisis and breathe new life into this district of Bengal?

The Problem

People of India are facing water crisis. Newspaper headlines on the water crisis in Bengaluru should be a warning to both cities and villages of the country. Studies, including NITI Aayog's Comprehensive Water Management Index (CWMI), have also indicated such warnings. “If mitigation measures are not implemented, India will face a 6 percent loss in its gross domestic product (GDP) by 2050,” Like Bengaluru, most Indian urban centers continue to neglect water management.


About 3,000 kilometers away from water stressed Bengaluru, IAS Surendra Kumar Meena and Alipurduar district administration have an effective solution to water scarcity.


The Solution:

  1. Project Launch:
    In 2021, the district administration launched a project to address the water crisis by reviving 235 abandoned water bodies and digging new ponds.

  2. Jaladharini Dooars Initiative:

    1. Name: Jaladharini Dooars, literally meaning 'water withholding'.

    2. Objective: To increase water conservation capacity in abandoned water bodies throughout the year.

    3. Implementation:

    4. Discussion with concerned departments, farmer groups, fisher-folk cooperatives and experts to identify potential locations.
    5. Rejuvenation of 12 water bodies in Phase 1, 221 water bodies (including 50 regenerated) in Phase 2 and digging of 151 new ponds in Phase 3.
  3. Employment Generation:

    1. Digging of ponds brought income to local people and generated employment of more than 6 lakh men through the MGNREGA scheme.

Challenges Faced:

  1. Land Identification:

    1. Identifying lands needed for the project was a challenge, but the land department officers helped to overcome this.
  2. Local Support:

    1. Gaining support from locals was initially a challenge, but once the project started, they understood its importance.

Success Story: Biswakarma Jhora:

  1. Biswakarma Jhora, a rejuvenated water body, was transformed into a biodiversity park.
  2. It now features a fish sanctuary, medicinal plant garden, butterfly garden, ornamental fish pond, beekeeping farm, and boating facilities.

Lessons Learned:

  1. Effective Governance:

    1. Good governance implies a meaningful, effective, and sustainable response in the face of a crisis.
    2. Civil servants addressing water crises can be more effective by maintaining a clear view of the problem and acting accordingly.
  2. Multiple Benefits:

    1. The excavated ponds revived agriculture, horticulture and fisheries, besides serving as playgrounds for elephants.
  3. Sustainable Water Conservation:

    1. The water bodies created for agricultural needs also benefited the wildlife.
    2. Elephants from the nearby Jaldapara forest visited the ponds for drinking and bathing.
  4. Economic Improvement:

    1. The project improved the economic status of the people by creating both community and individual ponds.


IAS Surendra Kumar Meena received Excellence in Governance Award in the Water category for this sustainable water conservation project.


The case study of IAS officer Surendra Kumar Meena and the Alipurduar district administration demonstrates how effective governance can address water crises and improve the lives of people and the environment. The initiative serves as a role model for other water-stressed regions and emphasizes the importance of collaboration, innovation and community participation in sustainable water management.

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