One fine day, the Public Health Engineering Department or what is known popularly as Water Supply makes an announcement that as the Porompat Water Supply has stopped functioning due to low level of water in the Iril River it will not be able to supply potable water in several areas of Imphal East.
The notification does not even say, when it will resume water supply again in the near future. Normally, the divisions of PHED issues notifications for cessation of water supply in certain areas due to repairs stating a duration.
It is okay, as supply points and pipes had to be repaired for certain extraneous reasons. But, it does not befit a department charged with supply of potable water to general public to say that it will not be able to supply water and get away with it.
PHED was bifurcated from the erstwhile PWD for drawing up a sustainable water supply mechanism and a viable drainage system in the state while ensuring 24x7 water supply. Well, we could not wish for 24x7 but at least the people is entitled to potable water supply through the pipeline for a few hours.
There is whole department entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring and managing water supply and the state is paying the engineers and other employees of the department for that special purpose and they cannot simply get away with a statement that the department would no longer be able to supply drinking water as the rivers had gone dry.
It is for the department to plan ahead for the lean season
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 has been facing water scarcity and have had to depend on private water tankers. In fact, private water supply has become a booming business.
It is rumoured that some powerful persons are much involved in the private water supply business, while on the other hand some enterprising people have started opening private water treatment plants near the rivers, 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 Prime Minister’s slogan “Catch the rain, where it falls, when it falls” does not much ice with the general public as preparations were necessary for such a plan to succeed. Ponds have to be dug and rainwater harvesting schemes had to be in place well ahead before such programmes are announced, however catchy it might be.
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. But now, Imphal city is facing acute scarcity of potable water.
Due to drastic reduction of water level at Singda Dam and drying up of Leimakhong River, which are the main sources of raw water, the Public Health Engineering Department (PHED) has notified that normal tap water supply to consumers will be highly affected.
Inspite of this water scarcity in Imphal city, PHED Minister Sushildro is strangely silent.