By Oken Jeet Sandham
Water scarcity has again hit the Kohima residents. During dry season, town dwellers normally suffer but residents in and around state capital, Kohima, have to face the maximum hardships. Even the state assembly used to discuss the matter very seriously. In one of the previous Nagaland assembly sessions, Leader of Opposition Tokheho Yepthomi had even cautioned that a time would come for them to think of having “Winter Capital and Summer Capital” somewhere where water is available. The Opposition Leader was of course very cautious while mooting his idea of having “two-capital theory” as such remark could lead to misunderstanding, although his observation on the “chronic and perennial” water crisis particularly in the capital is very much genuine and everybody’s concern.
Yepthomii, a former PHE Minister, claimed that some villagers from the Southern Angami areas used to make excuses one way or the other for not allowing the PHE Department to take water from their sources. He continued asserting his points that if the villagers kept refusing the Department to tap water for the citizens living in and around the state capital and also for other purposes in the capital, a time would come to think of having “Winter Capital” somewhere where water is available. Because the acute water scarcity normally occurs during winter season. “We cannot have capital without water,” he said. This sounds like little exaggeration but it is a fact that the acute water scarcity is prevalent in the capital particularly during lean season.
Now a careful study is required as to why the villagers in the Southern Angami region, from where the water is supposed to be tapped, are really refusing to provide water. If they refuse, then the Department should find out reason for it and try to settle with them. If one looks at the issue carefully, it is not monetary issue. It is something to do with land problem—say dispute. Still then this can also be looked at from various angles and found solution or if the villagers have a feeling of apprehension that their water sources will run dry if they are continuously tapped for the purpose of state capital, the experts should allay their fear of the would-be consequences. The question is whether the water could be tapped without affecting them or is there sufficient water that could be tapped. All these factors should be thoroughly looked into and discussed.
Another very important suggestion given Yepthomi is tapping of water from the Dzukou Valley. According to him the water in the Valley, if properly tapped, can feed the residents of Kohima and also for other purposes. This area needs examining seriously. In fact, the idea of tapping water from Dzukou Valley was there since long time back. But much of the discussions were confined to private parties only. As such the matter did not go beyond that parameter.
However, it is easier said than done and even thinking of tapping water from Dzukou Valley will not be that easy. And unless the people owning the Dzukou Valley agree to the idea, it will not work. It will be back to square one.
We should also seriously look into the quality of water supplied by various private parties and individuals in and around Kohima city. During the lean season, those who are residing in and around the state capital have been undergoing untold miseries not only for paying exorbitant price in buying water from individuals and private parties but also for not getting water to buy at times.
At the same time, nobody is bothered about the source of water. In some cases, coolies were spotted collecting water from nullas and running water from broken water pipes for supplying to various families. Many feel that if they get one or two buckets of water is alright for the day or two. This attitude is highly dangerous for the health of our people, because this water would have a lot of contaminants, as they are randomly collected from elsewhere.
The health effects of some contaminants in drinking water are not well understood, but the presence of contaminants does not mean that your health will be harmed. In fact, in cities, public water supplies were tested, and regulated to ensure that our water remains free from unsafe levels of contamination. Whereas those private water supplies, including wells, are not regulated by drinking water standards, and owner must take steps to test and treat the water as needed to avoid possible health risk.
It may also be noted that drinking water can become contaminated at the original water source, during treatment, or during distribution to the home.
We should also keep in mind that if the water comes from surface water (river or lake), it can be exposed to acid rain, storm water run off, pesticide runoff, and industrial waste. This water is cleansed somewhat by exposure to sunlight, aeration, and micro-organism in the water. And if the water comes from groundwater (private wells and some public water supplies), it generally takes longer to become contaminated but the natural cleansing process may take place longer. Groundwater moves slowly and is not exposed to sunlight, aeration, or aerobic (requiring oxygen) micro-organisms. Groundwater can be contaminated by disease-producing pathogens, leachate from landfills and septic systems, careless disposal of hazardous household products, agricultural chemicals, and leaking underground storage tanks.
Although the levels of contaminants in drinking water are seldom high enough to cause health effects, but they more likely to cause chronic health effects – effects that occur long after repeated exposure to small amount of a chemical. Examples of chronic health effects include cancer, liver and kidney damage, disorders of the nervous system, damage to the immune system, and birth defects.
Therefore, the Government of Nagaland should come up with a proper regulation to check the private water supplies and their exorbitant rates. The water should be tested and properly treated before supplying.
One should also appreciate Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio’s frank admission, while sharing his mind on the water scarcity issue on the floor of the House, that he, being an Angami, be blamed for his and his people’s inability to provide required water to the capital, in spite of having been available in their areas. It is unforgettable moment indeed when he admitted on the floor of the House of their people’s inability to provide water needed in the capital when they have sufficient water available in their areas.
It is natural that the Chief Minister being an Anagmi would cut a sorry figure when such situation surfaced on the floor of the House. His statement has also plainly shown his helplessness on the issue. But he should take the matter as a challenge because he as a Chief Minister from the Angami tribe for the last seven years should be the last person to solve this perennial problem. He should bring his people down to earth.
If he, as Chief Minister from the Angami community, fails to solve this water issue, it is also simply unthinkable that others would do the job. It is now or never. In fact, most of the important leaders in the ruling are from Angami tribe including Chief Minister, Speaker, Urban Development Minister, one Parliamentary Secretary, and one Chairman of a Corporation. The only Opposition MLA KV Pusa from the Angami tribe is also very serious on the issue. As such, the Angami leaders with their area leaders should find ways to solve the crisis for the sake of capital dwellers and also for the purpose of capital if the water is available for the supply to the capital. If the water available in their area is not sufficient for the supply in capital, then the Government should be in a position to make alternative measure to get water for the capital requirement.