Shillong: Water woes in the state has caught the attention of the MLAs and prompted several legislators to seek answers from Public Health Engineering (PHE) Minister Renikton Tongkhar in the House during the question hour of the Autumn session.
Congress MLA Zenith Sangma raised a question concerning water scarcity in Tura town.
Refusing to accept that there is any water scarcity, Tongkhar, however, said at times scarcity may occur due to reduction of discharge of water sources from Tura Phase I and III, water supply during the lean season, and the inability of Tura Phase II water supply scheme to generate the required quantity of water.
The MLA said the minister in-charge was incorrect and stressed that there was acute scarcity of water in entire Tura town. Sangma added that even the chief minister will agree with this. He also raised a concern about the alleged exorbitant rates charged by private operators supplying drinking water.
“In entire Tura town, water scarcity is everywhere. The situation in Tura is acute and needs the attention of the government. We are subjected to buy water even during monsoon season. In a month, we have to spend Rs 60,000 to purchase water. How will those people survive who can’t afford to buy water,” sked Sangma.
In his reply, Tongkhar said the department and government as a whole want to see that the people get enough drinking water and assured that all steps to ensure water to the people will be taken.
“For Tura, the department has sent a fresh proposal for construction of 10 additional reservoir at different locations. That is the initial step taken by the department and estimate has been made to Rs 14.37 cr,” Tongkhar informed the House.
The minister added that another reason for the shortage is power shortage. He said the existing power scenario in the state is that the department can use the pump machine only for a short period of time due to power shortage.
“There is also huge quantity of loss of water in the distribution network due to poor maintenance. The distribution network in Tura it being looked after by GHADC. The leakage is also another reason water doesn’t reach the consumers,” cited Tongkhar.
Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma explained that water scarcity/drop in water supply this year has been more than the previous years. The CM said this was due to climate change.
“There is a huge impact of climate change and human activity is adding to it. No matter what projects we take up, climate change is happening faster than what we can do. The rainfall in the past few months is not like the previous years. We will see more such problems and that’s why it is important to protect the catchment areas in every village and town,” said the chief minister.
He informed the House that they have recently cleared an externally-aided project worth Rs 500 crore wherein they will be creating spring sheds, protecting catchment areas and reservoirs. He said a massive project on these lines has been cleared.
It maybe mentioned that residents of Shillong city have also been complaining about the murky water that households have been receiving.
North Shillong MLA Adelbert Nongrum complained about the quality of water being supplied in his constituency and in the city, raising a supplementary question on the floor of the house while discussing water scarcity in Tura. He asserted that poor people in his constituency are now forced to buy water since turbid water is being supplied for over 10 days.
Replying to the query, Tongkhar said after commissioning of newly-laid 1000 mm dia Gravity Main Line, the water turns turbid and when it is clear, the water is released but again after 4 hours, the water turns turbid
No water till September 16
PHE minister Renikton Tongkhar said on the evening of September `13, while releasing the water on the evening of 13th September, through the 750 mm dia main line, a pipeline burst at Pomlum Village in Upper Shillong.
Due to the breakdown, the minister said there will be no water supply till the evening of September 16.
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