Shillong, Sept 15: Opposition Congress cornered PHE Minister Renikton Tongkhar on the issue of water scarcity in Tura Town during the Question Hour in Assembly on Wednesday.
Replying to a question by Congress MLA Zenith Sangma concerning the water scarcity in Tura Town, Tongkhar refused to accept that there was water scarcity.
Tongkhar, however, claimed that at times scarcity may occur due to reduction of discharge from water sources of Tura Phase I and III water supply during the lean season and inability of Tura Phase II water supply scheme to generate the required quantity of water.
Countering the Minister’s reply, Zenith claimed that the minister was incorrect and that there is acute scarcity of water in entire Tura town. He added that even the Chief Minister will agree with this.
He also raised a concern about the exorbitant price charged by private operators supplying drinking water.
“In entire Tura town, in fact water scarcity is everywhere, but the kind of situation for water scarcity in Tura is acute and it needs attention of the government. We are subjected to buy even during monsoon season. In a month, we have to spend Rs 60,000 to purchase water. What about those who can’t afford… how will they survive,” asked Sangma.
Tongkhar said the department and government as a whole are keen and want to see that people in state should get enough drinking water.
He added that they will take all steps to ensure people in the state get sufficient drinking water.
“For Tura, the department has taken steps to send a fresh proposal for construction of 10 additional reservoir at different location in localities under Tura. That is the initial step taken by the department, and estimate has been made to Rs 14.37 cr,” Tongkhar informed the House.
Reasons cited for lack of water
[ ] The Minister informed the House that the water supply schemes for Tura are unable to generate sufficient water for discharge in adequate quantity due to the lean season, which is seeing less rainfall.
[ ] Tongkhar said the shortage of power is another reason for water scarcity. He informed the House that due to power shortage, the department is restricted to pumping water for short periods of time, which is insufficient for adequate supply of drinking water.
[ ] Another reason is that there is huge loss of water in distribution network due to poor maintenance, because the distribution network in Tura is being looked after by GHADC.
[ ] “The leakage is also another reason, hence it doesn’t reach consumers,” the Minister said.
Water scarcity due to climate change
Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma further explained that the water scarcity/drop in water this year has been more than the previous years. CM Conrad K Sangma cited that it is due to climate change that things are changing.
“There is a huge impact of climate change and human activity is also adding to it. No matter what projects we take up, climate change is moving faster than what we can act. This acute crisis came up that time and rainfall in past few months is not like previous years. We will see more problems and that’s why important need to protect 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 where they will be creating spring sheds, protecting catchment areas and reservoirs.