IMPHAL, March 22 � With the drying up of the major rivers in Manipur, Imphalites have begun to face scarcity of drinking water even as the World Water Day was observed today.
�With the drying up of Imphal river, most of the residents are dependent on private water tankers to meet their water needs since the last one month,� said S Joysangker, a resident of Singjamei. People residing along the downstream of Imphal river from Singjamei onwards are also relying on private water tankers for their daily water use.
The drying up of Iril river has forced the Public Health Engineering department (PHE) to stop supplying water to the water tanker operators from their Porompat water reservoir in Imphal since the last few days.
The water levels of both Iril and Imphal rivers are understood to have gone down alarmingly because of absence of rains in the State since November last year and subsequent disturbance in their catchment areas.
�We have stopped supplying water to tankers as the water level of Iril river has gone down at the intake site�, said a senior official of PHE. Normally, PHE use to supply a minimum of 50 water tankers with the capacity of 10,000 litres each, on a daily basis, besides the regular water supply to Kongpal, Nongmeibung, Khurai, New Lambulane, Officers Colony, JNIMS hospital, etc.
According to the Census of India (2011), only 33.9 per cent of Imphal East district�s 91,806 households are getting tap water, 18.2 per cent from river and canals and 18.2 per cent from pond/tank and the balance 13.6 per cent from handpumps. Similarly, 57.2 per cent of Imphal West district�s 1, 11, 393 households are getting water from tap, 7.2 per cent from river and canals, 20.4 per cent from pond/tank, whereas 3.4 per cent from handpumps.
But environmentalists here feel that the large scale deforestation in the catchment areas, lack of comprehensive regulations and control over the use of water, changes in the annual rainfall pattern, etc., are the main reasons for the shortage of drinking water in Manipur.
PHE annual report (2012-13) claimed that a total of 1,722 habitations in the State have been fully covered under its water supply schemes. This includes 1,318 habitations in the five hill districts of Chandel, Churachandpur, Senapati, Tamenglong and Ukhrul. There are a total of 2,870 habitations in Manipur.
The best way to maintain the water security of the region is to preserve the forests in the water catchment areas, experts said, adding, another method is to harvest rain water and construct check dams.