Saturday, May 8, 2021

Water shortage

It came as no surprise to the residents of the state capital to hear Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio speaking of Kohima reeling under heavy water crisis. Kohima has been facing shortage of water for years and decades now, but successive governments have failed to mitigate this problem. Except during monsoon, there is not enough water for all in Kohima, and citizens have to resort to buying untreated water from tankers taking a huge toll in their health and wealth. While inaugurating a 2 lakh litres tank to harvest rain water at Gariphema village on April 15, Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio revealed that Kohima lacks 80% of water supply even after commissioning of the Zarü water sources to Kohima town, which can supply up to 3.80 million litres of water everyday through pumping. Now this is a very serious issue, which needs urgent attention. “Even at my bungalow we still do not have water supply linkage to us,” the CM had said. But he restrained from pulling up the department concerned, the PHED, for the acute water crisis in the state capital. However, one needs to ask the necessity of a department when it can provide only 20% water supply in the capital city. If this is the case, one can well imagine the plight of the rest of the districts, towns and remote villages in Nagaland. Today we no longer live in the times when people would fetch water from some nearby natural resource – a pond, a river or a lake. That water was used for all purposes – drinking, dishing, washing and cleaning. Given the status of our water bodies, and also the changing pattern of population and housing, it is no more a possibility. The population is growing too fast, the pattern of housing has changed beyond recognition, and the water bodies have either turned extinct or they are in a very bad shape. So, practically speaking, the government has to supply water to every household for all the purposes – drinking, washing and dishing. To provide such a service there is a huge department established by the government for this purpose. As the population grows and the levels of pollution go up it is a challenging job for the concerned department to provide safe drinking water to all the households. That is why the service infrastructure needs regular inputs. To this end the Centre announces different schemes from time to time and funds are provided to implement those schemes. Now if the schemes are not implemented properly, and the funds are not utilized fully there is something seriously wrong with the functioning of the concerned department, and the relevant officers in the higher echelons of the officialdom. In many such cases there are reports that schemes were not timely implemented and the delay resulted in the abortion of the whole programme. Here the department needs to do some vigorous introspection. Also the quality of water provided to the final consumer is also a matter of grave concern. The levels of pollution in our water bodies, from where the water is lifted in the first instance, demands fine filtration. Does that happen or there are loopholes in the process of filtration. In case the quality of water is found wanting it means a direct threat to the health of the people. At the same time, we must understand the importance of saving water in all the ways it is possible. As the Chief Minister said water (mis)management is one huge reason why we lack water, while stressing on the Centre’s Jal Shakti campaign on the theme “Catch the rain where it falls when it falls”. This means we need to harvest rain water. The concerned departments need to undertake massive public awareness campaigns to popularize the efficient use of water, and also the methods to harvest rain water. Our people in general also need to understand that it is for the sake of the future generations that we need to take care of the water bodies. We need to desist from polluting rivers, lakes, and ponds. We need to adopt the ways of washing, dishing, drinking, and irrigating that are efficient. Finally each drop counts.