With the onset of the ‘dry season’ (November to March), water – or lack thereof – will once again become a matter of concern for many. Problems related to water extend from local to global levels and Nagaland is no exception.
Even on regular days, in matters of public water supply, there is no proper ratio between the demand and supply. During the lean period, even more people are afflicted – they have to either shell out a considerable amount of money to pay for a certain quantity of water from private water tankers or spend hours at end in long queues to collect just a bucket of potable water from perennial sources.
While modern aspects like climate change, deforestation, pollution etc. are without doubt affecting the quality and quantity of water in the state, our (potable) water crisis is said to have less to do with water scarcity and more with factors relating to social and land issues, lack of water resource development and management issues, among others.
A senior citizen and a former politician had recently pointed out that almost all the villages and administrative centres in Nagaland were once provided with tap water (some 60 years ago). But by now, the water tanks in the villages have become dilapidated and pipes rusted and no longer functional, he lamented. This is indicative of the fact that no attention or effort was given towards maintenance of the facilities, leave alone upgrading them.
Now, it is not a surprise that the state government’s final-draft of the ‘Nagaland Water Policy 2016’ tabled earlier in February last contained
the acknowledgement that water resource development has not received required attention and priority after the formation of state of Nagaland, which has resulted in fragmented institutional framework and skewed water governance.
Also, it is worth mentioning that while the recently launched computerised water billing system by the Public Health Engineering Department in Kohima with the aim to revise the water billing system for better revenue collection towards a better sustainability of water supply system is appreciable, it also brings to mind what the youth activists of Mokokchung (MTLT) had boldly and fittingly told the department some time earlier this year – that the public should not pay fees when there is no water supply.
Technicalities aside, we still need a lot of basic water education, right from how to use water economically, how to conserve water, awareness and know-how on affordable rainwater harvesting system etc. On the other hand, the public also need to put in some enthusiasm and give efforts to learn and put into practice their knowledge, so as to mitigate the problems related to water. When it comes to water, what we take for granted today could be in short supply tomorrow. Much is at stake.