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City localities reel under water shortage

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SHILLONG, May 2: Several localities in the capital city are staring at an impending crisis with water supply down to the bare minimum amid rising temperatures and a prolonged dry spell.
It is reported that the water sources supplying potable water to the various localities are slowly drying up and fear looms large about the situation turning worse if there is no rainfall for another week.
The Dorbar Shnongs have appealed the state government to take steps to protect the various water bodies, sources and catchment areas, especially with the rampant increase of new settlement.
People involved in the business of running water tankers are also complaining about their supply being affected.
Speaking to The Shillong Times on Thursday, Rangbah Shnong of Mawlai Kynton Massar, Marco Mitri said the whole of Mawlai area is likely to face the problem of water crisis if the onset of monsoon is delayed.
“As of now people are getting water from public taps. But I don’t know what will happen if the rainfall is delayed by another week,” he said.
According to him, the Umsohlang river, which is the main source of water for Mawlai area, has dried up.
He said that the current drought coupled with the heatwave is the impact of climate change which has had a global impact.
Mitri said the government needs to come up a long-term plan since a majority of the catchment areas and water sources are under threat due to the growth of new settlement.
He pointed out that the state government cannot depend only on the Mawphlang dam to feed the whole city, and suggested that the state government will need to construct multiple reservoirs in different localities which have connection to water sources.
The government should explore the possibility of constructing satellite reservoirs even outside the city like Smit and Laitkor which will be helpful during the dry season, he said.
In addition, the state government should explore the idea of acquiring the land surrounding the catchment areas to protect them.
“Government needs to act now before it is too late,” Mitri said.
Echoing Mitri, Rangbah Shnong of Nongrim Hills, Bantylli L Narry said that the whole of Nongthymmai area is already reeling under water scarcity.
“We are still receiving potable water. But it has reduce to 40 per cent as compared to normal times,” Narry said, adding that the Umkhen river, which is the main source of water for Nongthymmai, is also drying up due to detrimental human activities.
Narry said that 75 per cent of the water supplied in Nongthymmai area comes from the Umkhen river while 25 per cent comes from the Greater Shillong Water Supply Scheme (GSWSS).
Narry suggested that the state government should impose a ban on all mining activities along the river bank and near the catchment areas.
He claimed that the Umiew river, which is the main source of water for the Mawphlang dam, is drying up due to  rampant and unregulated sand mining and stone quarrying.
He said the state government will need to protect the catchment areas and waterbodies at any cost to avoid a catastrophe in future.
Laitumkhrah Rangbah Shnong PS Nongkynrih also admitted to the water shortage in Laitumkhrah and its surrounding areas since the last week of April.
According to him, the only respite from the drought-like situation is the rain.
“We are facing a tough situation due to climate change. I think the government needs to step in since we need to protect the catchment areas by planting trees,” he said.
He also said that the government should not allow any human settlement near the water bodies or catchment areas.
“It is time the people realize the importance of saving water and preserving waterbodies,” Nongkynrih said.
Mawkhar Assistant Rangbah Shnong, Ransom Sutnga said localities like Riatsamthiah, Mawkhar, Wahingdoh and Jaiaw are also facing water crisis.
Recalling that the PHE Chief Engineer has stated that the capacity of the Mawphlang dam will allow distribution of water for three to four months, he said, “My question is whether this will solve the problem faced by the people if the PHE is only able to provide water for 20 minutes instead of the usual one hour. Will it be is justified if people get only 15 litres of water instead of 150 litres? We need to understand that water is our basic necessity,” Sutnga said.
He urged the state government to utilise its resources and address this problem on an urgent basis.
“The situation is going to aggravate if a solution to this problem is not figured out,” he added.

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