Monday, April 22, 2024

Cherrapunjee grapples with water shortage


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Incredible though it may sound, Cherrapunjee – – the wettest spot on earth – grapples with acute water shortage, when it does not rain.

With 10,000 mm annual rainfall its credit, Cherrapunjee is unable to supply adequate drinking water to its 20,000 residents almost half of the year.

According to Mr P K Roy, A Geologist of GSI, Shillong, both Man and Nature have contributed to this plight.

Mr Guha Roy, who carried out a recent study on the problem, concludes that the persons in the helm have not done enough to mitigate the sufferance of the people. On the other hand the unavourable geo physical conditions obtaining in the area do not hold out any promise of ground water reserves.

The residents of Cherrapunjee, during the dry season, are compelled to do laundry and bathe in the thin trickles of the nearby streams. It is a common sight that men and women trek down a good distance for obtaining some water.

Cherrapunjee, with a population of about 20,000 has been divided into Upper , Middle and Lower Cherra for water supply arrangement. Three separate water works cater to three sectors of the town. The Upper and Middle Cherra water supply systems are based on two spring about 4 km north of Cherrapunjee. Water is conveyed from the intakes by two 75 km pipe lines to storage tanks from where water is fed into the distribution network at fixed times. Tapping a spring in Lower Cherra Water Works directly feeds spring water into the distribution network through a trunk pipe line, 20,000 mm long and 50 mm in diameter.

All the three systems operate on gravity and no pumping is involved.

Public Health Engineering Deptt is responsible for operating the Upper Cherra Water Supply, whereas the Middle Cherra Village Committee and local PWD office operate the Middle Lower Cherra Water Supply systems respectively. No written record is available with these organizations about production, distribution and technical details of the water supply schemes and some information’s were obtained by Mr Guha Roy by interviewing the concerned persons.

The spring supplying water have very poor discharge during the dry season and the total daily yield a “guesstimate.” Made by Mr Guha Roy was of the order of 6,00,000 liters in February, 1984. The present demand estimated at 2 million liters per day on the basis of WHO norm, renders the daily shortfall in the order of 1.4 million liters, which is about 70% of the current demand. People supplement their water requirement by bathing and washing in the streams which are but mere trickles during the dry months.


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