| A fast-drying river in Imphal. Picture by UB Photos |
Imphal, April 25: Residents from different parts of the state gathered in Imphal yesterday to discuss the looming water scarcity as a result of the dry spell sweeping across Manipur.
“If an immediate action plan is not taken up, it will not be long before people start dying of thirst because of contaminated water or non-availability of water particularly in and around Imphal city where community ponds and tube wells do not exist,” Kh. Rebati Raman, a spokesman for North East Dialogue Forum, an NGO, said.
Reports said most of the water supply schemes in and around the Greater Imphal area have not been either able to supply adequate water or are lying defunct because of drying up of rivers.
Public health engineering minister Irengbam Hemochandra Singh who is closely monitoring the dry spell, admitted that Imphal city is facing an acute shortage of water.
“We are closely monitoring the situation. If it does not rain in the next few days and the dry spell continues, we will use water from Loktak lake for supply to the affected areas.”
The water level of Singda dam, which provides potable water to major parts of Imphal city, has also sharply dropped. Community tanks in most parts of the state are also drying up.
Official sources said rivers across the state are too drying up very fast because of lack of rain this year.
According to the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, Imphal centre, there was no rain in January this year. January normally records an annual average rainfall of 12.9mm.
Similarly, there was a sharp fall in rainfall in February and March. This month recorded a rainfall of 27.8 mm. At an average, the month of April should have 119.7mm of rainfall, the centre said.
Experts attribute lack of rain this year to deforestation in catchment areas and climate change.
“We are now buying 500 litres of water at Rs 200 to Rs 250 from private suppliers. The situation is getting worse as Imphal river is drying up,” Angom Rajesh, president of Sekmai Protection Committee of Imphal West, said.
People from Thoubal, Bishnupur, Imphal West, Ukhrul and Churachandpur participated in yesterday’s deliberations.
The North East dialogue Forum urged the Okram Ibobi Singh government to draw up an immediate action plan to ease the situation. It also demanded an action plan on climate change, a state water policy and a state land use policy.
“People will co-operate in any government action plan,” Dhanabir Singh, a member of the dialogue forum, said.