Conflict hit Jal Jeevan Mission in Manipur
IMPHAL — The ambitious goal of providing safe drinking water to 4.5 lakh households in Manipur by this year under the Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) has hit a roadblock—the eight-month conflict that has stalled progress.
According to an update, the JJM implementation is stuck at 77%, struggling to overcome hurdles posed by ongoing ethnic conflicts. It was launched in 2019 with a budget of INR 3,137.42 crore, largely funded by the central government (90%).
The conflict severely hampered the project’s momentum, obstructing material transportation from outside the state, said Shangreiphao Vashumwo, chief engineer of Manipur’s Public Health Engineering Department (PHED), emphasising the acute challenges encountered as a result of these disruptions.
Notably, logistical challenges in conflict zones hampered the formation of village water and sanitation committees, which are critical for comprehensive rural coverage, further delaying on-the-ground implementation, according to the chief engineer.
Despite serving Imphal and its environs, which require 124 million litres of water per day, through 17 water treatment plants, disruptions in conflict-affected zones such as Kangchup, Kangchup extension, and Potshangbam-II, combined with pipeline sabotage at the Singda treatment plant, severely curtailed water supply.
He expressed his determination to resume work in these conflict zones by engaging local youths from neutral communities on contractual terms. He also stated that plans to complete pipeline replacements and smart metre installations by mid-year aim to improve water distribution efficiency.
Meanwhile, Dr. Tourangbam Brajakumar, the in-charge director of the state’s Directorate of Environment and Climate Change, warned of a looming crisis caused by the drying up of springs and the disappearance of wetlands, which contribute significantly to the state’s water scarcity problem.
Brajakumar stressed the necessity of a governmental policy focusing on spring revival and effective water allocation management to avert an acute potable water shortage. He feels it is an anomaly that while regions like Rajasthan and Delhi, with minimal annual rainfall (200mm and 400mm, respectively), sustain sufficient water supply throughout the year, Manipur, receiving 1600mm annual rainfall, grapples with water scarcity.
He emphasised the unaltered water cycle and consistent rainfall in Manipur in recent years, but also highlighted a shortened monsoon period lasting two to three months, leading to intense but brief rainfall, which disrupts groundwater recharge and is exacerbated by deforestation in hill catchment areas, causing spring desiccation and river water volume reduction.
“Nearly 62 percent of springs in the state have dried up due to this phenomenon,” Brajakumar said, underscoring the urgency of a policy addressing spring revival to alleviate the water crisis.
Highlighting the critical role of wetlands in environmental purification, he bemoaned a drastic reduction in wetland numbers—from 550 to 119—which contributed significantly to the state’s adverse climatic conditions. He noted that to tackle this issue, the department is engaged in rejuvenating existing wetlands.
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