While we are forever waiting for seasonal rains to come, the common people in Imphal and other parts of the state are facing acute scarcity of drinking water. As the Water Supply department or the Public Health Engineering department (PHED) perennially talks of helplessness of water supply in the absence of rain, 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.
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 Chingkheiching 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.
While inaugurating the Chingkheiching Water Treatment Plant, CM Biren had said that the people should not have a headache since the government had taken up several steps to cope with the shortage of water in the state.
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Once the pipeline works are completed the plant will start providing water. Still, many parts of Imphal and other outlying areas are at present facing acute scarcity of water. The first question is, cessation of water supply is only for the common people and general public or does it include the VVIPs including the minister himself also.
The Water Supply scheme managed by PHED inside the sacred Kangla is practically responsible for supply of water to most of VVIPs in Imphal area. While the Chief Minister is busy trying to reassure the general public about the efforts of the government to avail drinking water by identifying water filling stations and hasten the process of supplying water from Chingkheiching Water Treatment Plant, the PHED minister seems to think that his job is to regularly inform the general public about the status of water supply capability and not of ensuring regular water supply.
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 6/7 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.
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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. It is true, water reservoirs and rivers have gone dry. But, what is the department doing about it? If the notification is meant for the public to use water sparingly, it is alright. 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.