Water scarcity

One of the basic requirements of human life is reasonable availability of fresh, pure and safe drinking water. Nagaland is well placed in respect of availability of water, both for drinking and other purposes, as compared to other states but due to host of reasons, availability through pipes for all households is still far from being a reality. Otherwise also, a culture of treating water as a precious but scarce source of nature is quite far away which speaks both for wanton wastage of water as also polluting almost all sources from where water is available. Administrative apathy and the alibi of shortage of funds have made the availability of water on an even and compatible levels universally in all the areas of the state a near distant dream. Not to speak of villages and far flung rural areas, even in the cities, particular state capital Kohima, the position is far worse. In Kohima, most of the areas get water supply once in two or three days and that too, for an hour or so only. At the national level, Modi Government realising the importance of drinking water and the future challenges, took an innovative step towards forming in May 2019 a new and separate ministry known as Ministry of Jal Shakti by merging two ministries – Ministry of Water Resources River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation and Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation. Unified Jal Shakti Ministry is aimed at providing clean drinking water as well as fight India’s water woes. The Central Government, in order to infuse a new spirit in the said ministry and make it responsive to the growing water needs of the public, interacts with the states and very recently, a State Ministers’ conference on Jal Jeevan Mission was held at New Delhi. Various provisions and details of prestigious programmes of ‘Har Ghar Nal Say Jal’, ‘Swachh Bharat Mission and Saubhagya Scheme were discussed and Central Government’s initiatives were appreciated towards formulating a new and non conventional approach towards providing safe drinking water to the people. It was made known in the conference that the state of Nagaland had started working towards the implementation of the scheme of 100% piped water supply to all households by the end of 2022. While this is a welcome step, details of the scheme, various work projects and the timelines are required to be shared with the public to precisely get a sense of the status of the entire programme. The state administration must know that most of the areas in the towns are already having piped facilities but in rural areas a lot of work is needed to be undertaken in order to make the target of 100% piped supply a reality. We still haplessly see women and children treading long distances to get a pitcher of water from usually one or two sources and their woes get accentuated during rains or cold winter days. We agree that even in rural areas nearly half of households are connected through piped water supply under the new scheme of the Central Government but the question is as to whether there is water supply also or not and what about other areas which are yet to see the dream of the piped water supply becoming a reality. There are associated problems in respect of supplying drinking water. The underground water table is fast depleting which is causing concern and over ground sources are under strains of pollution and non-tapping which require vast public awareness and a committed institutional mechanism for setting up of more filtration plants. Kohima where drinking water scarcity is chronic require advanced technical and innovative initiatives to tackle the drinking water problem. At the same time it is sad that there is no emphasis on providing quality drinking water for which proper long term planning is required.