Water-The elixir of life Grim situation
Not exactly a case of ‘Water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink,’ but twist this line with due apology to Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Manipur comes somewhere close to the understanding of ‘Rain, rain for many months in a year, but not a drop in the water supply pipes.’ Making things all that more scary is the voice of concern and apprehension aired by some private water tanker drivers that if the sky does not open up in the next few days, then water tankers may also go the way of the water pipes and will not be in a position to supply water to private consumers from March. And March is just a few days away. Scary and unacceptable this is. Come the Monsoon or when the sky opens up and Manipur will be back to the days of floods, with river banks breaching at different points and local people chipping in with what they can to stop the banks from breaching. Employees of the Water Resources Department, as in the past, can be expected to be on the round the clock duty to monitor the rising water level at the major rivers across the State. If the Imphal based newspapers are presently focusing on the acute water shortage then one can expect them to turn their attention to the rising water level at the rivers once the sky opens up and there is nothing novel in this, for this has been the experience down the years. This should underline the point that Manipur receives handsome amount of rain in a year and it is disappointing to see that even after more than half a century of Independence, running water is still a luxury which is out of the reach of the people. It is for this very reason why there are community ponds at each and every leikai, but with the sky yet to open and with the increasing population, most of the community ponds are also running low on water, if not dry. All indications that Manipur still has a lot to do to live up to the true understanding of a Smart City for its capital Imphal. No wonder, there has been a boom in the number of local firms manufacturing water storage tanks and such items have today become a sort of a necessity to gift the daughters at the time of their marriage. Individual water storage tanks with the capacity of 500 litres, 1000 litres and in some cases 2000 litres filling in for the natural water reservoir-ponds-is now no longer the exception in Imphal.
Roti, Kapda Aur Makaan may have been the line used earlier to denote the basic necessities of life, but now it has become imperative to add one more word-Pani. It was as recent as February 2 that PHED Minister L Susindro informed the State Assembly that 19 water supply plants have stopped supplying water to the public. The crucial question is, how many such supply plants are operative at the moment ? The PHED Minister topped this off with the statement that if the rain God does not come to the rescue of the people, then Imphal River will have no water for public consumption by March. This was said on February 3 and like the rest of the world, Manipur is also marching towards the next month, March. This jells with what some private water tankers said during an interaction with The Sangai Express on February 15-private water tankers may also run dry from March. Apart from the War on Drugs, the Government will need to pay their undivided attention on how to make Manipur water sufficient throughout the year and while the rural areas may still have their ponds to rely on, this cannot go on forever. Says something profound that a place like Manipur where there is rainfall for the greater part of the year should reel under water scarcity during the dry season. Think out of the box to harness the rain water is a line which the doctor would prescribe.