BJP’s much touted Jal Jeevan Mission and Jal Shakti Abhiyan remain a mirage in Manipur. BJP leaders have been claiming that before 2017 only 6 per cent households were availing drinking tap water and now 62.19 per cent are having the facility. Pipes, however, need water to reach homes.
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, many families with a tap water connection 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 localities do not get water even if they use water pumps to suck water from the internal pipes.
We cannot understand why the Public Health Engineering Department (PHED) is allowing or rather encouraging families to buy and use water pumps in the first place while they should be banned.
In a move to save energy, the government had been appealing to the general population to avoid using electrical appliances, including water pumps.
In many places, 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. In fact, 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.
While Imphal city reels under water scarcity, the state PHED is doing precious little to come up with adequate measures for availing drinking water to the general populace.
We still do not know when the Water Treatment Plant at ChingkheiChing would become operational.
Well, one cannot simply depend on the Iroisemba Water Supply scheme. Now, we are more concerned about the acute water scarcity facing the state.
We hope PHED Minister L Sushildro would apply his mind to this important issue.
With springs and rivers drying up, catchment areas lying in waste and wetlands vanishing, the future is bleak for the state.
Manipur experiences water scarcity due to lack of facilities to harvest rainwater and destruction of catchment areas, as per reports.
The state 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.
The state needs to frame a comprehensive Water Policy to deal with non-stop supply of potable water to every home both in urban and rural areas throughout the year with special emphasis on adequate supply during the lean season.
For the present, PHED needs to pool in public and private water tankers for supply of drinking water to the general populace who are now facing water scarcity.
Sushildro is known for his innovative ideas and non-conventional solutions to problems. That is why, we are still confused why he is not in action regarding the water scarcity. Perhaps, he has not been properly briefed on the situation.