Would the government please wake up

With springs and rivers drying up, catchment areas lying in waste and wetlands vanishing there is no cause for celebration this World Water Day, more particularly for our state.

Water scarcity in Manipur

On the occasion of World Water Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched ‘Jal Shakti Abhiyan: Catch the Rain’ campaign via video conferencing this Monday across the nation. Soon after, Chief Minister N Biren Singh also launched the State Chapter of the campaign and instructed the officials to form a joint committee of Water Resources Department, PHED and Minor Irrigation for the successful implementation of the campaign that will continue from March 22, 2021 to November 30, 2021 to reduce the problem of water scarcity in the next dry season. The campaign will be undertaken across the country, in both rural and urban areas, with the theme “Catch the rain, where it falls, when it falls”. It will be carried on as a Jan Andolan to take water conservation at grassroots level through people’s participation. It is intended to nudge all stakeholders to create rainwater harvesting structures suitable to the climatic conditions and sub-soil strata, to ensure proper storage of rainwater.

In 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Jal Jeevan Mission to provide drinking water to all rural households by 2024. The same year, Jal Shakti Abhiyan was also launched to campaign for water conservation and security. Last year in July, Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone for an Rs 3050 crore worth Manipur Water Supply project which would benefit large parts of the state. The moot point is without recharging of groundwater, there will be no piped water. For safe and constant supply water, the government must promote community-based water conservation, invoke citizens to harvest rainwater, and call for rejuvenation of wetlands and catchment areas.

With these two important mission on the radar, one could certainly hope for a better water security in the near future. What we are more concerned right now is the acute scarcity of water facing the state. With springs and rivers drying up, catchment areas lying in waste and wetlands vanishing there is no cause for celebration this World Water Day, more particularly for our state. Manipur experiences water scarcity due to lack of facilities to harvest rainwater and destruction of catchment areas, as per reports. Manipur has been receiving an annual rainfall of 1,467.5 mm, which is higher than the national average. The problem of water scarcity, however, persists due to lack of facilities for harvesting rainwater and destruction of catchment areas. There are also reports showing that 42 per cent of the natural springs in the hill areas of the state have vanished.

But now, Imphal city is now facing acute scarcity of potable drinking water. Due to drastic reduction of water level at Singda Dam and drying up of Leimakhong River, which are main sources of raw water, the Public Health Engineering Department (PHED) has notified that normal supply of tap water to consumers will be highly affected. It said, the water treatment plants at Singda, Kangchup and Kangchup extension are unable to produce the optimum quantity of treated water. To a non-resident of Imphal, water scarcity would seem to be a recent phenomenon. But for the last three-four months, major portions of Imphal city has been facing water scarcity and have had to depend on private water tankers. In fact, private water supply has become a booming business for some.

Some enterprising people have started opening private water treatment plants near the rivers. For those who could afford to buy 10,000 litre at Rs 7,000 and 1,700 litres at Rs 400, it is alright. But to the poor urban families, it has become a major burden. The VVIPs and VIPs, to whose homes and quarters water is delivered by government water tankers on a regular basis, might have been blind to the acute water scarcity facing Imphal city.

First Published:March 23, 2021, 8:11 a.m.

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