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Water scarcity emerges as major problem for city

By Staff reporter

GUWAHATI, March 21 � Urban settlements in Assam � even those close to major waterbodies � are facing an acute shortage of drinking water. Tomorrow, the World Water Day will be observed in many of the towns and cities but for lakhs of people, the prospect of receiving safe drinking water will at best be a mirage.

Leading the list of water-scarce settlements is the capital city, where access to drinking water has emerged as a major issue. Scores of people who have regularly paid tax have been complaining that their supply of piped water has gone down substantially in recent times. Even residents of old neighbourhoods such as Uzanbazar, Panbazar, Machkhowa, and Bharalumukh have frequently found themselves facing shortage of piped water.

Although the State Government has been repeatedly making claims about providing piped water to a number of localities, in reality vast areas in and around the North-east India�s largest city are yet to be covered.

In many parts of the city, water pressure in the piped water network has nosedived. Affected consumers say that some people have put in pumps to illegally extract water from the pipes but the authorities have not taken any steps to curb the practice. However, it has also been found that people have resorted to using pumps in some cases as there is no other way to get the water for which they are taxed.

Faced with dearth of piped water, or its irregular supply, thousands of the city�s residents now have opted for groundwater as the final resort to meet their water needs. This phenomenon has put considerable pressure on the groundwater deposit, which according to experts and lay people, has gone down. The proliferation of multi-storey apartment blocks followed by their extraction of groundwater has also contributed to drying up of wells in neighbouring residences.

According to eminent geologist Dr Pranavjyoti Deka, the reduction in groundwater in Guwahati is a fact that cannot be denied. He underlined the need for a comprehensive mapping of the city�s groundwater resources and its sustainable use if the residents have to enjoy water security in the days ahead.

Delayed pre-monsoon showers will lead to further water scarcity, and in due course it will also affect the recharging of natural aquifers which spread across the city.

Apart from having to invest in high-cost boring, a large section of people have become dependent on water provided by three-wheelers which source water from considerable distances away. As a result, the cost of water is much more when compared to piped water.

A senior Forest Department official, who did not wish to be named, said that degraded hills and loss of forest cover has contributed to loss of moisture in the air. Guwahati and its adjoining areas used to have moisture in the atmosphere in March as late as 10 years back, which is no longer the case.

Disappearing green cover has turned the city into a �heat island�, a situation in which its surrounding areas have precipitation while the city is in the grip of heat and dust, he added.

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Water scarcity emerges as major problem for city

GUWAHATI, March 21 � Urban settlements in Assam � even those close to major waterbodies � are facing an acute shortage of drinking water. Tomorrow, the World Water Day will be observed in many of the towns and cities but for lakhs of people, the prospect of receiving safe drinking water will at best be a mirage.

Leading the list of water-scarce settlements is the capital city, where access to drinking water has emerged as a major issue. Scores of people who have regularly paid tax have been complaining that their supply of piped water has gone down substantially in recent times. Even residents of old neighbourhoods such as Uzanbazar, Panbazar, Machkhowa, and Bharalumukh have frequently found themselves facing shortage of piped water.

Although the State Government has been repeatedly making claims about providing piped water to a number of localities, in reality vast areas in and around the North-east India�s largest city are yet to be covered.

In many parts of the city, water pressure in the piped water network has nosedived. Affected consumers say that some people have put in pumps to illegally extract water from the pipes but the authorities have not taken any steps to curb the practice. However, it has also been found that people have resorted to using pumps in some cases as there is no other way to get the water for which they are taxed.

Faced with dearth of piped water, or its irregular supply, thousands of the city�s residents now have opted for groundwater as the final resort to meet their water needs. This phenomenon has put considerable pressure on the groundwater deposit, which according to experts and lay people, has gone down. The proliferation of multi-storey apartment blocks followed by their extraction of groundwater has also contributed to drying up of wells in neighbouring residences.

According to eminent geologist Dr Pranavjyoti Deka, the reduction in groundwater in Guwahati is a fact that cannot be denied. He underlined the need for a comprehensive mapping of the city�s groundwater resources and its sustainable use if the residents have to enjoy water security in the days ahead.

Delayed pre-monsoon showers will lead to further water scarcity, and in due course it will also affect the recharging of natural aquifers which spread across the city.

Apart from having to invest in high-cost boring, a large section of people have become dependent on water provided by three-wheelers which source water from considerable distances away. As a result, the cost of water is much more when compared to piped water.

A senior Forest Department official, who did not wish to be named, said that degraded hills and loss of forest cover has contributed to loss of moisture in the air. Guwahati and its adjoining areas used to have moisture in the atmosphere in March as late as 10 years back, which is no longer the case.

Disappearing green cover has turned the city into a �heat island�, a situation in which its surrounding areas have precipitation while the city is in the grip of heat and dust, he added.