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Nagaland

Perennial water shortage in Kohima

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By EMN Updated: Sep 08, 2013 1:43 am
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Correspondent
KOHIMA, SEPTEMBER 7

PROBLEMS related to water, the “elixir of life”, extends across all dimensions from local to global levels. And it is no secret that water, or lack thereof, is a matter of major concern for the people living in Kohima.
The state capital is perpetually in the grip of a water crisis. The problem is amplified during the dry seasons when water shortage afflicts the citizens even more severely. People spend hours at end, devoid of the time of day, in long queues during this season to collect just a bucket of water from perennial water sources.It is a small wonder then that the acute water shortage issue in Kohima dominated the opening day of the budget session for the fiscal 2013-14 of the Nagaland Legislative Assembly July last.
At the core of the problem is the yawning imbalance between demand and supply of water in the drought-like afflicted town. Against the average requirement of 15 million liters per day (MLD) as per the population of Kohima, the Public Health Engineering (PHE) department is reportedly able to acquire only 1.5 MLD for supply. This scanty but precious amount of water is collected from the three existing water sources – Dzüna (Jotsoma) which provides 1.2 MLD, and Dzücharü and Zasogei (Phesama) providing 0.3 MLD each.
The much awaited Zarü (Mima) water pumping project which is yet to complete civil works is expected to provide 3.8 MLD for supply in Kohima. The total quantity for supply may still fall way short of the public requirement but this project, once completed, is expected to provide a respite for consumers.
Those who are currently receiving public supply water from PHE are reported to be getting water only every two to four days for a few hours, a situation not unusual in the water-starved state capital.
According to some PHE officials, the shortage of water supply in Kohima is not always because of lack of water, but due to different factors such as social and land issues, lack of water management, cooperation, water treatment and sanitation issues.
Other than these main issues, Kohima district is said to have more than enough water to sustain its population.
Against the backdrop of shortage in public water supply, those engaged in private water supplying systems in the town through cable and water tankers are considered to be a boon for the people and they also thrive in business during lean seasons.
Roughly, people who buy water from PHE tankers are said to spend at least Rs.500 per thousand liters, whereas, private water tankers reportedly charge Rs.700 per thousand liters. At an average, a family of five-six members uses up 1000 liters in three to four days. This works out to spending anything from Rs2000 to Rs3000 towards water bills alone.
For those who can afford these rates, the scarcity of potable running water will not seem too much of a problem, but the less privileged are the ones who suffer throughout the year.
Although the monsoon brings relief to most people as groundwater sources accumulate and rainwater harvesting system is becoming popular, there are others who still have to walk a certain distance to fetch water physically even during this season.
The irony is in acute water shortage haunting homes while torrential rains wash down whole mountain sides and the tragedy is in the incapacitated state of collective mindsets to address the issue.

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By EMN Updated: Sep 08, 2013 1:43:34 am