We asked for imagination to quench the thirst of water in Greater Imphal area and the government has come up with the idea of filling up the Imphal River with water from Thoubal Dam routed through the Chingkhei Ching Water Treatment Plant and water from Loktak Lake piped up to Malom in the outskirts of Imphal. It has already started, but there is still the question of treatment of the water as it passes through the Imphal River before supplying it to the consumers.
Government officials say, the water reservoir at Thoubal Dam is enough to supply water to Greater Imphal even if it does not rain for three years. What a laugh! What if the catchment area of Thoubal area does not yield enough water due to climate change effects? Has the state government done anything about it? It knows only to harvest but not preservation or forestation of the catchment areas. Look at Singda Dam. One has heard of river linking projects, but one cannot imagine filling up a river with water pumped from a dam or a lake and it sounds almost ridiculous.
Yet, we must congratulate the government for coming up with an idea although very late in the year. The seasonal rains have arrived but in small drizzles and it is not able to wet the ground. What the general public has been asking the state government for the last few months is why it failed to come to the rescue of the water starved people in time. The state government and of course PHED did not give a damn when people were buying water from private water tankers at high costs and the minister in charge of water supply had the audacity to say that piped water is drinking water only and not for other purposes. Who cares if the public uses it for other purposes as we are paying for it and now that water supply is metered in most places in Imphal, it is the responsibility of the department to supply water adequately.
The Water Supply department or the Public Health Engineering department (PHED) perennially talks of helplessness of water supply in the absence of rain and the Chief Minister N Biren Singh had assured of piped water in parts of Imphal once the water treatment plant at Chingkhei Ching starts supplying water regularly. Yet, many parts of Imphal city are still left high and dry.
The Water Treatment Plant at Chingkhei Ching in Imphal east district has a capacity of 45 million litres per day (MLD). The raw water is drawn from Thoubal Dam reservoir through a long pipeline. The Chief Minister had said that water from Chingkhei Ching will be fed to water reservoirs for distribution to consumers of Singda Dam Water Supply Scheme and other areas. Singda dam supplies drinking water mainly in urban areas. It usually supplies 18.16 MLD (million litres per day) but with the reduced water level of the dam.
The demand for water in the greater Imphal area is 125 million litres per day, against the installed capacity of 104 million litres per day of the more than a dozen existing water supply plants. The Singda dam, which has been supplying water to vast areas. The source of water for the dam and others in the state, is the rivers. However, all rivers except the Iril river had gone bone-dry. Water level of Singda dam is divided into three levels.
Of the total dam level of 34 metres, the first level is marked at 10 metres from the top of the dam and another 10 metres at the second level and the last level is marked with 14 metres. If the water level is reduced below the second level, it is considered an alarming stage. At present, Singda Dam has become obsolete with mountain springs drying up and unpredictable seasonal rains.
As we said earlier, safe drinking water is basic in the life of the common people, which the state government needs to ensure. Imphal city has been facing a drinking water crisis for the last six/seven months or so. Water is not flowing in the PHED pipes anymore since the last six/seven months and people are buying water from private water tankers at exorbitant rates and no one seems to bother.
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. On the other hand, the Public Health Engineering Department (PHED) comes up with notifications like such and such water supply schemes would not be able to supply drinking water for lack of sufficient stock.
The general public should not waste water which is being supplied through the pipes, in some areas. However, we understand that PHED is not there to just inform the general public about the water stock position. It is there to ensure regular supply of safe drinking water to the general public in the backdrop of much vaunted Jal Jeevan Mission and other schemes.