India: Excessive Dredging of Sekmai River Causes Concerns
Un-restrained collection of sand and pebbles from the Sekmai riverbed has been cited for the acute shortage of drinking water in Kanglatongbi areas.
According to some Kanglatongbi residents about 3000 truck loads of sand/pebbles are being collected on a daily basis in the past few years.
Contrary to the locals engaged as labourers to shovel the construction materials in the past presently 20-25 excavators are being used to dig up sand/pebbles from the river thereby deepening the riverbed by about 30-35 feet and consequently lowering the ground water level.
Depression in the ground water level automatically means drying up water sources in the elevated areas, explained the locals who also informed that most of the wells in Kanglatongbi areas, particularly Hattikhuwa village, have dried up unlike in the recent past when even drains or wells in the said locality used to have abundant water throughout the year due to seepage/draining from the nearby Koubru hill range.
Apart from the drying-up effect affecting about 3000-strong population of Hattikhuwa, cattle too are facing the impact, they said informing that wells are the main source of water for the locals.
Speaking to the Sangai Express on the impending threat posed to the locals as well as their cattle, Kanglatongbi Village Development Committee chairman DP Kharel said that since time immemorial people of Kanglatongbi had been surviving on water from the wells.
While wealthy families maintain their own wells, 4-5 economically unsound families combine to dig a common well, he said and recounted that about seven years back water could be found at a depth of about 20 feet.
It is said that till about 2010 a well has to be about 55-foot deep to reach the water level with the cost of digging a well needing about Rs 2 lakh.
However even the 55 feet deep wells could no longer retain water as a direct consequences of the continuous depression of Sekmai riverbed, said the chairman who informed that almost all the wells in Hattikhuwa locality have dried up.
While the problem of water shortage is most serious in the dry season the situation is no different even during the monsoons, according to Kharel who deplored that acute shortage of water in Kanglatongbi areas has resulted in about 40 paris of paddy plantation sites remaining barren in the past few years.
Despite existence of the water supply scheme at AR Colony near Kanglatongbi the said scheme could not provide drinking water to the local residents who are compelled to purchase water (tankers) for daily usage as water from the Sekmai river are also not fit for human consumption, maintained the chairman.
Plying of heavy vehicles engaged in collection of sand/pebbles from the Sekmai riverbed has also resulted in severely damaging the 1 km long road that connects hattikhuwa to Sekmai quarry site inspite of the fact that the same road was developed under the PMGSY programme only about two years back, he informed.
Kharel further stated that as regular plying of vehicles is causing severe air pollution the locals contributed money to black-top the said road.
Source: E-PAO, March 18, 2013