BASIC HUMAN NECESSITY: Water, water, not enough to drink – Rs 4-crore scheme announced to quench thirst of Cherrapunjee

BASIC HUMAN NECESSITY: Water, water, not enough to drink – Rs 4-crore scheme announced to quench thirst of Cherrapunjee – same goes for Darjeeling under Bengal’s 63 year colonialist neglect ?!!

Water carrier in Cherapunjee of all places - just like in Darjeeling ?!! (TT)


Shillong, Aug. 27: The salesman joke about selling a refrigerator to an Eskimo has come true in Cherrapunjee, once the wettest place on earth.

A scheme was announced today to pump in Rs 4 crore to provide drinking water to Sohra (the original name that became Cherra on English tongues but has been restored now).

Over the past few years, Sohra, which has lost the wettest title to neighbouring Mawsynram, has been thirsting for potable water almost the year round, except during the monsoon.

The drinking water scheme is a reminder to the world not to take natural resources, however abundant they are, for granted.

A shift in the course of moisture-bearing clouds reduced the rainfall in Sohra. However, had conservation efforts such as harnessing the available rain been in place, the erstwhile Cherrapunjee would not have had to spend money on something it was blessed with through the year.

A Darjeeling water carrier and his heavy load - 'health for all in India' under Bengal's colonialist apathy ?!! (Himal News)

The scheme is titled the Greater Cherrapunjee Water Supply Scheme, the dry nomenclature usually seen in parched urban sprawls but rarely expected in a lush land once known for its breathtaking waterfalls.

Announced by Meghalaya public health engineering minister Prestone Tynsong, the project is expected to be commissioned this November.

Once ready, the supply scheme will ensure drinking water for 25,000 families. But the people will have to keep an eye on the litres: 40 litres per head per day to households in Cherrapunjee and Mawmluh in East Khasi Hills district.

For the countless tourists who throng Sohra, 56km from capital Shillong, every summer for a glimpse of the former but still famous wettest place on earth, the depleted waterfalls and arid hills come as a rude jolt.

The Congress legislator representing Sohra, P.W. Khongjee, said: “While there is enough water for everyone during the rainy season, we face difficulties during the winter months, especially in January.”

Cherrapunji’s yearly rainfall average stands at 11,430mm, 443mm less than Mawsynram’s.

The statistics that occupy mind space here now are more mundane but they reflect the concern about what was once a given. An official said that with the new scheme, the public health engineering department hoped to provide safe drinking water to 760 habitations, 213 lower primary schools and 63 integrated child development scheme centres in the state by 2010-11.

Another telltale sign that the woes of arid regions have come calling: allegations that contaminated water was being supplied to some villages.

Minister Tynsong said the department had decided to set up water-testing laboratories at the subdivisional level to ensure that safe drinking water reached all.

“We now have water-testing laboratories only at the district level, but we will soon commission laboratories at the subdivisional level,” he said.

The quarterly cleaning of reservoirs will also be taken up soon.


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