Kiphire | May 12
Kiphire district, given its available resources and suitable landscape, should ideally be self sufficient in water. However, the district has been in deep crisis for the past two months due to non availability of water.
Damaged pipes carrying water supply is the main cause of the crisis. In Kiphire town, the pipes supplying water is in the same status as it was when the town was an ADC HQ. With an increasing population, and the town being upgraded to a district HQ, the current water supply system has come under stress. However there has been no sign of effort to upgrade or replace the old pipes.
People in the district have resorted to buying water from private carriers, hitting the wallet of the citizens.
The owner of one private water carrier, while speaking to The Morung Express, said that Kiphire town has 15 vehicles carrying water to meet the demands of the town. In a day, one vehicle earns around Rs 3,300 rupee on an average. Going by this, the town is spending an estimated Rs 50,000 per day on water, he added. He further said that the demand has been increasing since water supply connectivity has been absent for the past few weeks.
Citizens of the town who depend on the department for their water opined that if the supply pipes are not repaired soon, they would find it very difficult to survive, as shelling thousands on water is not fiscally feasible.
Meanwhile, the town has around 9 water cable distributors, giving connection to more than 1000 consumers. Each consumer has to shell out Rs 3500-4500 as connection charge, which is non refundable, and Rs 150-350 as monthly fee. Observers point out that this amount could have gone directly to the state exchequer if the water supply was efficient, thereby improving the revenue of the department.
The town has two phases of water connection. The first phase is from Mutrikyu and the second phase is from Tukhake. However, the current water supply capacity, with 65mm pipe, is not enough and needs enhancement to a higher capacity of at least 200 mm diameter pipe, according to official sources.
Adding to the woes of people in the district, there is only one water reservoir for the entire district, which is old and has several leaks.
While there has not been any outbreak of diseases as a result of contaminated water, the danger of such occurring persists. The department has no filtering plant and is directly supplying water to the consumers from the source, thereby increasing the risk of contamination.
Citizens of the district say that while availability of water is not an issue, infrastructural support to provide supply is the main area that needs to be addressed. If infrastructure improves, everything will automatically improve. But no one is giving due importance to this human problem which is the main problem, they say.
The PHE Department, on their part, has deputed some of the staff as emergency teams, comprises of 5-6 personnel, to repair the pipes. However many of them are work charge employees earning Rs 3450- 8000 monthly, while the work load is excessive. Problems reportedly arise in different sections almost every day, and almost the entire 15 km stretch of water supply pipeline is rusted.
Sharing the plight of the employee, especially the work charge staff, officials of the department who asked to be anonymous said: “We have many staffs but only handful staffs are seen working almost every day as the pipes are old and it breaks down almost every day.” Further, they add that the meagre salary is paid only once in 3 or 4 months, depending on fund availability.