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Water crisis talk of the House; legislators suggest solutions

SHILLONG: The problem of water shortage in the city and other districts prompted a long discussion in the House on Thursday with several MLAs coming up with different aspects of the crisis and possible solutions.
Replying to a motion moved by Mawphlang legislator SK Sunn, who is a former PHE chief engineer, on water crisis in the state capital and district headquarters, PHE Minister Samlin Malngiang said that Phase III of the Greater Shillong Water Supply Scheme (GSWSS) was delayed due to non-release of central funds.
Malngiang said the fourth installment of the project was released on February 10, 2016, after a gap of four years.
The minister added that the Centre earlier not only delayed but also deducted Rs 1,741.48 lakh from the project since the state government could not implement the JNNURM reforms under which municipal elections were to be held.
The Phase III of the project was sanctioned in 2008 with a funding of Rs 193.49 crore. According to the PHE minister, Phase I of the Greater Shillong Water Supply Scheme was sanctioned in 1979 to cater to four urban centres — Shillong Municipal Board Area, Shillong Cantonment Board, Mawlai and Nongthymmai — in Shillong town.
Phases I and II generate 51.30 million liters per day (MLD), including 34.05 MLD under Phase I and 17.25 MLD under Phase II. Phase I envisages pumping of water directly from the run-off the Umiew river and has a capacity to generate and supply 34.05 MLD.
With a view to augment water supply to areas covered under GSWSS (Phases I and II) and cover the remaining three urban centres — Pynthorumkhrah, Nongmynsong and Madanrting — GSWSS (Phase III) is being implemented.
Earlier, Sunn said, “The existing project (Phases I and II) generates and supply full capacity of 51.30 MLD from its water works at Mawphlang. However, due to high percentage of unaccounted for water (losses) in the transmission main, feeder main and the distribution networks, water availability for supply to consumers is comparatively less.”
Pointing out that work in other zones was suspended due to non-cooperation by PWD, Sunn said, “PWD and PHE are like left and right arms of the government. When the right arm of the government wants to do things, the left arm should not prevent it and vice versa.”
He urged the state government to ensure that the works are resumed and completed at the earliest for the best interest of the Shillong public.
Speaking on the New Shillong Township, Sunn said, “We already have the scheme and the public would like to see that works on implementation of the scheme is started at the earliest.”
The MLA said the Centre extends financial support for implementation of water supply schemes to ensure that every citizen is supplied with potable water at the rate of 135 liters per capita per Day (Lpcd) in the state capital and not less than 100 Lpcd in district headquarters.
Taking part in the discussion, Congress MLA Zenith Sangma said, “The government cannot make water but sanction money to make water available.”
“It is high time to do something to protect the catchment areas. Pull up our socks and strategise to protect the catchment areas,” he said, adding that there is lack of cooperation of from different departments.
Another Congress MLA Ampareen Lyngdoh said that there is a need to review the system on the joint distribution of water by PHE and the Shillong Municipal Board.
Pointing to the water supply at the Housing Complex at Nongmynsong, she said that the PHE department should speed up the water supply to the Housing complex to ensure that it does not face water shortage.
Earlier, Nongthymmai MLA Charles Pyngrope said water supply is erratic in his constituency though it is under GSWSS.
He said water was not reaching many localities as distribution system has outlived its life span and pipes are rusted and need immediate repair.
South Tura MLA Agatha Sangma urged the government to take steps for the formulation of water policy and to ease the problems being faced by women who are affected by scarcity of water.
She also urged the Speaker to provide water filters in the Assembly instead of bottled water.
Other members who took part in the discussion include Mawsynram MLA HM Shangpliang, Nongkrem legislator Lambor Malngiang, Rangsakona legislator Zenith Sangma, Mawlai MLA PT Sawkmie, East Shillong MLA Ampareen Lyngdoh, Umsning MLA George Lyngdoh, and North Tura MLA Thomas A Sangma.
Tapping springs & other solutions
Sunn pointed to the presence of a spring inside the Rymbai Protected Forest called Phe Phe, in East Jaintia Hills which could be tapped and supplied to the town.
Stating that the proposal by the PHE Department to utilise this spring source for supply to Khliehriat and Rymbai is yet to materialise, he said, “The revised sanction of the scheme under the name Greater Rymbai Water Supply Project is reported to be lying with the Government for disposal since the last 3-4 years.”
Turning to the Jowai Water Supply Project, Sunn said water supply has considerably improved but said the department should expedite commissioning of raw water pumping from Umngot.
As for the Nongpoh Water Supply Project, he said that old Nongpoh Water Supply Scheme has outlived its designated life, and a new scheme to improve water supply to the town is urgently necessary.
With regard to the Nongstoin Water Supply Project, he said that the water supply to Nongstoin will improve once the ongoing implementation of Nongstoin Urban Water Supply Project is completed.
Malngiang said there was a plan to improve the Greater Nongpoh Water Supply Scheme.
In reply to another question by Mayralborn Syiem, the PHE Minister said that the government is waiting for sanction from the Centre for the execution of the project.
Malngiang informed that there is a plan to improve the Greater Nongpoh Water Supply Scheme.
Stating that the Simsanggiri Water Supply Project in Williamnagar was adversely affected due to erratic power supply, Sunn said, “A new scheme with a source capable to feed the town by gravitational flow may need to be considered.”
Similarly, he said supply of water to Baghmara is erratic due to decreasing discharge of Rongdong stream while the Baghmara Urban Pumping Water Supply Scheme is also interrupted due to frequent power failure or low voltage supply.
Speaking about another District Headquarter of North Garo Hills, Resubelpara that does not have an organised water supply system, he said that an organized water supply system with source from a dependable river may need to be considered.
As for Ampati, Sunn said that the Greater Ampati Water Supply Project with source of supply from dependable source, Ganol is under implementation.
Elaborating on the Water Supply in Tura Town, he pointed to the three existing water supply scheme, Tura Phase I (Rangkhon Stream), Tura Phase II (Ganol River) and Tura Phase III (Didare stream).
He pointed out that environmental degradation and erratic power supply adversely affected the power supply to the town.
He stated that the implementation of Augmentation of Tura (Phase I and Phase II) water Supply project sanctioned under the 13th Finance Commission award at a cost of Rs 50 crore, has met with a number of obstacles.
Sunn said that the targeted source of the project, Daribok stream, a tributary of Simsang River has to be abandoned and shifted to that of Ganolsa, a tributary of Ganol river.
“The Ministry of Finance failed to release the 4th installment of Rs 12.50 crore due for the project. Since 13th Finance Commission Period is over, State has to request the Center to locate equivalent fund to complete the project for the interest of the public of Tura,” he said.
He also suggested constructing a dam on the Ganolma and the Didare streams, both tributaries of the Ganol.
“The two dams will impound sufficient water to meet the drinking water needs of Tura Town facilitating un-interrupted supply during dry period of the year,” he said.

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