2022 water vision at Centre’s mercy
HAVING endured shortage of potable water supply for the past many decades, citizens residing in Imphal are unlikely to feel or vocally express remorse that they would have to wait till year 2022 for the situation to improve. In view of chief minister N Biren’s statement during Saturday’s session of the Manipur Legislative that the Union government would soon sanction an external fund of Rs 3500 crore proposed by the state government to implement water supply schemes, it wouldn’t be presumptuous to assert that without the Centre’s patronage no projects would ever be possible. When the chief minister inaugurated three water supply schemes taken up under Integrated Water Supply Project for Imphal Planning Area (Phase-1) in March last year, Imphal dwellers expected that the chronic problem of potable water shortage would be history. However, the citizens continuing to grapple with the same old problem compels one to question whether inauguration of the much hyped projects, as a part the ‘Inauguration Fortnight’ to commemorate the first anniversary of the BJP-led coalition government, was intended to merely record the projects as an achievement. As the projects are yet to literally quench thirst of the people coupled with the CM’s apparent hint that the situation is unlikely to change till the Centre’s assistance reaches the state’s coffer, the government needs to seriously chalk up means to make these projects effectively serve the purpose. Under no circumstance should the state authorities live under the impression that credits could be claimed on the virtue of dedicating infeasible projects or schemes to the public.
The three schemes located at Singjamei Chinga, Kangla and Khuman Lampak sports complex and completed at a collective cost of nearly Rs 1.5 crore were undertaken with the stated objective of addressing shortage of potable in the most densely populated areas of Imphal East and Imphal West districts. A year after the inauguration one of the schemes is learnt to have started providing water to parts of Thangal Keithel, which is mainly settled by the wealthy business community while in the adjoining pockets where scarcity of potable water had been a chronic the process is at the stage of laying the pipes. Slackness in fruition of the projects suggests that officials entrusted to oversee speedy execution of the projects have been dragging their feet. They seem to be ignoring that shortage of potable water has been a common problem that merits efficient planning and implementation. In fact, Manipur’s water crisis was laid bare nearly 10 years back when a survey report revealed that only 25 per cent of the households in the state have access to tap water from treated source and the remaining households relied on untreated sources like well, hand pump, tube well, borehole, spring, river, canal, tank, pond, lake and others. As governments come and go, bureaucrats need to shoulder the responsibility of accelerating implementation of projects which are invaluable to the citizens. Similar to marked improvement in the power supply scenario and collection of revenue in the aftermath of introducing pre-paid meter system, the PHE department could be transformed to a vibrant institution in case clean and adequate drinking water could be ensured to the citizens.