MITHILA (North Bihar) can be called a land of ponds. There are 9115 ponds in 1269 villages of Darbhanga district. Area of pond varies from about 1 acre (0.3 hectare) to 150 acres (60 hectares). Some of them are 500 to 1000 years old. The excavation of a pond was considered as a very pious act. After excavation of a pond, it is dedicated (UTSARGA) by its excavator to all living beings (human, cattle, bird, insect and species which survive in water) for their survival and need of water.
This way, community has an age old tradition of customary rights over a pond for irrigating agricultural land; to use water for bathing, washing and cooking purpose; and water for bathing & drinking their cattle. Besides, these ponds help in recharging ground water; about 70 to 80 varieties of birds survive on small fishes and insects provided by these.
Moreover, the ponds in Mithila provide nutritional food in the forms of fish, snail, crabs to people and livelihood to weaker section/fish farmers; pond bund covered with trees, grasses and bush/shrub/herbs become a natural shelter/forest-belt for wild animals in rural areas. In fact, many ponds are a centre of religious and cultural festivals of all castes and sects.
They also play a vital role in mitigation of flood and drought, and in harvesting of rain and river water.
In spite of several laws and judicial orders for protection of ponds, their very existence is in danger. Hundreds of ponds have been leveled to the ground and illegally sold by land mafia. Pond bund, slope of pond bund to water bed, and inlet & outlet of pond have been illegally sold/occupied or encroached for construction of houses, shops, schools, hospitals and commercial complex by greedy, criminals and influential persons. People’s right to the ponds is denied and prevented by land/pond mafia. Sewage, garbage and medical garbage are routed to ponds, which is polluting its water to dangerous level.
With this background, Mithila Gram Vikas Parishad (MGVP) has started an initiative for protecting Mithila’s and Bihar’s Ponds through Advocacy and an extensive awareness-raising campaign:
— to protect community’s traditional right to the ponds and safe water.
— to protect livelihood, pond’s diversity and ecosystem including water security .
— to influence policy makers & planners to set up a ‘Bihar Pond Development Authority’ with clear
defined responsibility to protect & conserve the ponds with local participation
—to prevent encroachment and illegal building construction over pond’s area, and health
hazards due to dangerous pollution of pond water.
—to prepare Technical Guidelines, based on community practices and traditional wisdom of pond conservation, for protection, reclamation and conservation of ponds in Bihar, in consultation with environmentalist & experts.
Contact Details of MGVP:
MITHILA GRAM VIKAS PARISHAD, Professor Colony, West of Dighi Pond, Darbhanga, Bihar, India, PIN: 846004,
Contact Person: Narayan Jee, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Phone:06272-254085, Mob: 9955344811
Also see Dr. Sudhirendar Sharma’s article on this: http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/ponds-in-distress/article4960246.ece