IMPHAL, March 23: In the few months that the rains have ceased, water levels in all major rivers in Manipur are already acutely low. Some have dried altogether in great stretches of their lengths punctuated only by patches of stagnant pools in the river beds.
Nambul River in particular is in bad shape. Almost all along its length, the river bed has become baked dry and cracked. People living along this river are in the throes of a drinking water crisis.
Only 10 kilometres west of Imphal town, a cluster of villages including Akham, Ngarianbam and Mayang Langjing, falling within the Imphal West district and under the Lamsang Police station, are in a state of crisis and panic.
Once liberally fed by the Nambul River during the dry seasons, these villages do not have any community pukhris to depend on unlike most other villages in other parts of the valley districts. They never anticipated the Nambul River would be reduced to the condition it has been currently, and this lack of foresight is proving to be their misery.
Gram Panchayat member of Mayang Langjing Ward No. 7, Ngarianbam Sakhenbi, who distributed drinking water to villages within her ward today said Nambul River originates from Kangchup hills and after it confluences with Luwanhi River at Iroishemba, begins its southward journey on its meandering way to ultimately empty into the Loktak Lake.
This year however, to the alarm of everybody, the river is drying up way before it reaches the lake, Sakhenbi said.
The people in the Mayang Langjing area vitally depend on the river for their water needs, including drinking water.
There are two piped water schemes in the area fed by the river, one at Ngarianbam and the other at Mayang Langjing. But both have dripped dry too early in the year this time.
Nobody has any doubt this is on account of unprecedented deforestation in the catchment area of the river in the Kangchup Hills, together with an acute shortfall of winter rains this year.
The villages lamented that the government so far has not listened to their cries for availing drinking water to these villages. Sakhenbi told visiting media persons that these villages therefore have to buy drinking water in tankers from distant places, putting a strain on the family budgets of many of the villagers.
The Panchayat member also suggested that while the river is dry, her Gram Panchayat is arranging JCBs to de-silt the river bed to ensure better water holding and retaining capacity of the river.
The Gram Panchayat also held the concluding function of the village level national Rural Drinking water and Sanitation Awareness Week today at the Ngarianbam Ibudhou Pakhangba Sanglen. Mayang Langjing Zilla Parishad member Konthoujam ongbi Sunita Devi was chief guest and Sapam Dhananjoy Singh presided the function.
Assistant engineer, Mayanglangbam Damu Singh, was technical expert of the awareness programme organised under the initiative of the Public Health Engineering Department of the Government of Manipur.