Life would not be possible without water. Ground water is one of the basic elements for human existence. Ground water feeds springs, rivers, lakes and wetlands and seeps into ocean. Ground water is refilled mainly from rain and snowfall infiltrating the ground. It is extracted to the surface by pumps and wells. It provides a large proportion of water which we use for drinking, food production, sanitation and industrial processes etc. It is also important for maintaining a healthy ecosystem which includes wetlands and rivers.
World Water Day is celebrated on 22 March every year since 1993 focusing on the importance of freshwater. The idea for this International Day came up from the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro in 1922. In the same year, a resolution was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly to observe 22 March as World Water Day. A core focus of the World Water Day is to support the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal6: Water and Sanitation for all by 2030. The celebration is all about to create awareness of the 2.2 billion people living without access to safe water and taking action to tackle the global water crisis. The theme of this year is “Groundwater, Making the Invisible Visible”. Groundwater accounts for 99 percent of the world’s freshwater.
World Water Day is observed in different parts of the World. But on the other side there are billion of people who are not able to access safe drinking water in their lives. In different part of the state Manipur too, many people are not able to access safe water in their life. They face many hardships to get water with the limited water resource in their nearby locality. A cross section of people narrates their hassle in getting water in their lives.
Ningthemcha Ongbi Sanamacha of Soibam Leikai, Meri Leirak in Imphal East district told that as every household used high power water pump for lifting water, the tap water cannot reach her house located at a distance hardly one kilometre away from Porompat Water Supply. For the last 20 years they have been buying water from private water tankers for drinking, bathing, washing, cleaning etc. They spent around Rs 3000 every month for buying water. More expenses in buying water happen particularly during summer, she added. Sanamacha asserted that they used pond water only for gardening and mopping the floor. She appealed to concerned authority to supply water with equal proportion to every household. Her expectation from the new government of the state is to provide safe drinking water instantaneously. She also appealed people not to waste water as it is the most precious thing in our life.
A resident of Kwakeithel Mayai Koibi in Imphal West district also narrated that her family fully depends on water tankers for every purposes such as drinking, washing, bathing, cleaning, and gardening too. For her every drop of water is precious, as every drop of water is money. She wishes the new government to fully implement Jal Jeevan Mission and have water connection to every household thus relieving a big burden particularly for women which they faced in fetching water.
Ayo Vasha from Kasomtang in Ukhrul district expressed that they spent more two hours to fetch a bucket of water in his village. Even they spent many sleepless nights to fetch a bucket of water from the nearby small pond. Now every pond is drying up during this dry season. As there is no river or any other water sources in his village, Ayo buys water from the water tanker spending around Rs 4000 per month. There is only one public water supply connection in his locality which supplies water twice or thrice a week. It permits only two buckets of water for one household. There is no individual connection of water supply. Ayo said that during December to April every year they faced a lot of problem in getting water. Sometimes they used to get water from the paddy field also. He appealed the government to make an alternative arrangement such as hand pumps or other means to get water. As maximum of the villagers are farmers in his village, they faced many difficulties in their agricultural works due to scarcity of water, which results to low productivity rate. Getting water is all about investing time and money, he added.
Kadingampou Gonmei of Longraeng village in Noney district expressed that his village faces scarcity of water as the spring water is drying up. He said that without Government’s support it will be hard to survive without water. He appealed the concerned authority for an arrangement to provide water as early as possible.
A villager from Mt. Carmel Colony, Senapati district narrated that during the dry season particularly from November to April as all ponds are dried up, almost everyone in his village faced scarcity of water. There is no water supply from the Government department. They used the water that is being stored during the rainy reasons. But it only last for few days. So they find other means to get water. They used to go to fetch water from far places filling their four wheelers vehicles full of pots and other water vessel. People used water by recycling and used it very judiciously.
It may be mentioned that the newly elected Chief Minister of Manipur for the second term, Nongthombam Biren said that 63 percent of the total household of the state have been provided tap water connection. By the end of December this year, it targets to cover 80 percent of the total household. The statement was given in a reply on the second day (25th March 2022) of the First Session of the 12th Manipur Legislative Assembly.
Meanwhile, on the occasion of World Water Day, Vice President of India, Venkaiah Naidu stressed on the importance of conserving groundwater. He said that this year’s focus is on groundwater which exits as an invisible resource but impacts every life. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called upon everyone to reaffirm the pledge to save every drop of water. Media report says that Minister of state for Jal Shakti Prahlad Singh Patel has said that six crore rural household have been provided tap water connection since the launch of the Jal Jeevan Mission scheme in 2019. He said, out of over 19 crore rural households in the country, provision of tap water supply has been made to over nine crore households. The minister urged everyone to use groundwater judiciously.
The day is being organized at different levels in college and universities too. The notion of saving water and its importance must be taught from the grass root level. Almost all the liquid freshwater in the world is groundwater. Ground water is invisible, but its impact is visible by everyone everywhere. Out of sight and out of knowledge under our feet, ground water is the precious hidden treasure that enriches our lives. We need to work together to sustainably manage this precious resource. As climate change gets worse, groundwater will become more and more critical. This valuable resource provides many benefits for our human being and ecosystems and it must be protected from all forms of exploitation and pollution. Ground water may be out of sight, but it must not be out of human mind. More individuals and organizations need to multiply and work towards saving water. It is high time every one of us take the pledge to save water and use it judiciously for a healthy life. People’s access to safe drinking water must be made a reality.