We have written so many times about the scarcity of tap water in Imphal city, yet the situation never improves. Water has stopped flowing in the PHED pipes since the last few months or so and people are buying water from private water tankers at exorbitant rates. Major portions of Imphal city have been facing water scarcity and have had to depend on private water tankers.
When the Public Health Engineering Department (PHED) started installing pre-paid meters for tap water, the general people cooperated with the department in the hope that the supply of potable tap water would also become regular like electricity. But, the situation still remains the same. Some time back, consumers began to get taps in the pipes every alternate day. But now, consumers are getting piped water about two days a week, that too for about an hour only.
But there is a complaint of smelly water flowing in the PHED pipes. Again the problem is when water comes in the pipes, the push is not enough for the water to reach the water tanks installed at homes without a pump. Practically, every home had to have a water pump without which the water comes in trickling. As the poor cannot simply afford a water pump, they live at the mercy of rich neighbours who own water pumps.
Again, it is mostly families near the main water pipeline who get most of the water while many in the interior Leikai areas do not get water even if they use water pumps to suck water from the internal pipes. And we cannot simply understand why PHED is allowing or rather encouraging families to buy and use water pumps in the first place while they should be banning it. In a move to save energy, the government had been appealing to the general population to avoid using electrical appliances, including water pumps.
In the midst of this artificial scarcity, private water supply has become a booming business. Some enterprising people have started operating private water treatment plants near the Imphal River, even in the Chief Minister’s own constituency.
For those who could afford to buy 10,000 litre at Rs 7,000 and 1,700 litres at Rs 500, it is alright. But to the poor urban families, it has become a major burden with the MLAs turning a blind eye to the woes of the poor who cannot afford to buy water. 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 now.
The much touted Jal Jeevan Mission and Jal Shakti Abhiyan still remain a mirage. BJP leaders had been claiming that before 2017 only six per cent were availing drinking tap water and now 62.19 per cent families are having that facility. We still do not know when the Water Treatment Plant at Chingkhei Ching would become operational. On the other hand, one cannot simply depend on the Iroisemba Water Supply scheme. Now, we are more concerned right now about the acute scarcity of water facing the state. We hope Minister Sushindro would apply his mind to this important issue.
ALSO READ: Water Scarcity in Assembly
With springs and rivers drying up, catchment areas lying in waste and wetlands vanishing, the future is very bleak for the 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. There are also reports showing that 42 per cent of the natural springs in the hill areas of the state have vanished.