Sinlung /
28 April 2014

Dry Spell Leaves Aizawl Thirsty

Aizawl, Apr 28 : Owing to prolonged dry spell, Mizoram is reeling under acute water scarcity with the state capital Aizawl being the worst hit. The nearly three lakhs population of the city largely depends on the greater Aizawl water scheme phase-1, which was started in 1983 and aimed at supplying 10.8 million litres per day to a population of 80,000 at that time.

Under this scheme, water is pumped from Tlawng river to a height of 1,045 m, making it the second highest water supply project in the country after the one in Shimla.

Forget about the less-privileged families, even those who afford water connections from the government's water supply schemes are not getting enough water. "Getting water once a week is a thing of the past.

Sometimes we receive water only twice a month," said Zodinpuii, a resident of Chanmari.

Being a hilly terrain, natural water sources are a far cry for most families in Aizawl. Therefore, when their taps run dry, many families have to buy water that costs Rs 1600-1700 per 4000 litres. People selling water through water tankers that fetch water from places are also finding it difficult to meet the demand.

"We now have long queues of water tankers at all places from where we collect water. It is now a matter of giving two or at the most three trips to the consumers during 24 hours, compared to six to seven trips earlier," said Dina Tlau, a private water supplier. Owing to the dry spell, even spring wells are drying up adding to the residents' woes.

There are long queues of people on a nightlong vigil in places where spring wells still have water. Even if there is enough water from the river, the public health engineering department has occasionally faced technical snags due to the complicated methods involved in pumping water from the river to the top of the hill where water reservoirs are.

It is not only the dry spell that is causing problems for the PHE department but also their pumping set, which is now more than two decades old. According to the officials of the PHE department, the set, which could pump more than two lakh litres per day when it was first installed, can now only pump 80,000 litres daily.

The greater Aizawl water supply scheme phase-II, which construction began in 1998 with an estimated cost of Rs 176.57 crore, is yet to fully function.

The scheme, designed to provide 24.1 million litres of water to the Aizawl residents everyday, has been delayed due to the state government's "whimsically and unsystematic approach". Interestingly, the water supply scheme had been officially inaugurated by then DoNER minister Mani Shankar Aiyer in May, 2007.


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