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Dry spell has dried up all water sources: Minister

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SHILLONG, May 3: PHE Minister Marcuise N Marak on Friday admitted that the state was staring at an impending water crisis which is the most severe the state has ever witnessed. Most of the sources providing potable water, including main reservoirs, in the state are drying up, he said.
“The government is trying its level best to provide safe and potable water to everyone in this lean period but so many of the water sources are drying up. Most of the sources of Jal Jeevan Mission have also dried up as have the main reservoirs. Some of sources are supplying only 20 per cent of the water against their potential,” Marak said.
The PHE minister said the worst scenario was in Garo Hills and East Khasi Hills. “Since we have several sources and tributaries, we are still managing but comparatively most of the sources in Meghalaya are drying up because of climate change which is happening all across the globe,” he said.
Stating that the PHED is trying its best to sensitise people against encroaching the water sources and catchment, he said, “In Garo Hills, we still practice the shifting cultivation and there are laws that were enacted to protect the catchment areas but we cannot do much as the Nokmas are the landowners there and they go for shifting cultivation every year and that is how the ecosystem is affected.”
Talking about Shillong, he said, “At least we have a very good storage of water in Mawphlang. We will be able to supply water to Shillong for three more months even if it does not rain.”
He also admitted that the Umiew river which feeds the Mawphlang reservoir had dried up considerably. “We are getting only 50 per cent of the water now and but the storage we have will be enough for two-three months. I urge everyone to use water judiciously,” the minister said.
Talking about the situation in Tura, Marak said the main source of water for Tura is the Ganol river but there is no storage facility like in Mawphlang.
He said the government is planning to come up with a water storage facility in Ganol and at the same time, programmes will be launched to locate other sources of water.
Making it clear that there cannot be any short-term solution to the water crisis, he said, “Our only hope is that the rain comes early.”
“We had a review meeting two days back and long-term and short-term strategies were discussed which will be made known shortly. Since the sources are drying up, the government is taking special care to see it is addressed in the long run. As a short-term measure, we are takings steps to survive with whatever water we are getting,” he added.
He also said the government has directed the deputy commissioners to take necessary steps to protect the catchment areas and they are waiting for the replies from the district administration.

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