SHILLONG: The once pristine Umiew River which is the main source of water for the main dam at Mawphlang which supplies water to the entire Shillong city and its suburbs through the Greater Shillong Water Supply Scheme (GSWSS) is facing a huge threat to its very existence due to unwanted and uncontrolled human activities.
Taking a serious note of the rapid depletion of this important river, a non-profit organisation from Smit – Rilum Foundation – along with the Smit Pyllun Seng Samla has formed the “Save River Campaign” to protect the Umiew River.
The members of the campaign are committed to ensure that the river does not become another ‘Wahumkhrah’.
A delegation of the campaigners recently met East Khasi Hills Deputy Commissioner Sanjay Goyal to seek his intervention for protection of the river.
In a statement issued here on Sunday, B Nongbri, a member of campaign, informed that they had been given assurance by the Deputy Commissioner that he would hold meetings with various line departments to find out ways and means to protect the river from further destruction.
Nongbri also informed that they have been asked by the district administration to keep a close watch on the human activities along the river and if anyone is caught dumping waste into the river or its tributaries, the same should be intimated to the administration for necessary action against the violators.
Commenting on the reasons behind the sad state of the river, Nongbri attributed the gradual destruction of the river to rampant sand mining in the area.
According to him, the sand quarry located at Umiew Maw U Sam village owned by Bay Khumujai (Sordar of the village) and Eder L Nongbri (ex-MDC from Nongkrem) has been causing maximum damage to the river.
Nongbri further informed that the river is being further destroyed due to vehicle washing directly taking place on the river since the owners use kerosene and other harmful detergents thereby polluting the river.
The member of the campaign informed that washing of vehicles on the river is a common sight right from Nongkrem adjoining the Assam Rifles Complex upto Smit village, with hundreds of vehicles being washed on the river daily.
“Dumping of solid waste including building material is another factor which is doing major damage to this very important water source. Solid wastes including human excreta from open defecation are released directly into this river by residents of Smit, Umphrup and other adjoining villages,” Nongbri said.
According to him, the river is not only the lifeline of the Greater Shillong Water Supply Scheme but also for many other villages like Nongkrem, Smit and Lyngkyrdem, which draw water from the river for their daily requirements.
Nongbri, incidentally, blamed the Syiem of Khyrim accusing him of inaction despite the fact that all illegal activities on the river are perpetrated right under his nose.
Nongbri also informed that the Syiem had, earlier, assured to form a coordination committee tom protect the river, but the same was yet to materialize.
Meanwhile, East Khasi Hills Deputy Commissioner Sanjay Goyal informed that he has convened a meeting on Monday to discuss the matter.
“We would try to find out measures to prevent further destruction of the river,” Goyal said.