World Water Day is observed on March 22 every year in order to raise awareness about its importance and conservation. In India it is specifically observed to raise awareness about the inaccessibility of water for about 2.2 billion people. A core focus of World Water Day is to support the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 6 of United Nations : Water and Sanitation for all by 2030. This year, the theme is on “accelerating change to solve the water and sanitation crisis.” The global campaign, called ‘Be the change,’ encourages people to take action in their own lives to change the way they use, consume and manage water.
CM Conrad Sangma attended the World Water Day event at Soso Tham Auditorium to mark the significance of this important day and also, it’s importance in the parlance of Water Resource Management for Meghalaya.
Meghalaya is the 1st State in the country to come out with a comprehensive Water Policy in the year 2019. Since Water sector projects require integrated efforts of multiple departments, hence a detailed Plan of Action (POA) has been devised in this context: “Meghalaya Water Mission” for a holistic approach to Water Resource Management in the State. Providing drinking water to rural households has been a top-notch priority for the Government.
When the Jal Jeevan Mission was launched in 2019 by the Ministry of Jal Shakti, the State only had 4,550 functional household tap connections. In less than four years, this has increased to more than 2.9 lakh households (47% coverage). Meghalaya is now the second-best improved state in the country in context to Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) with 1215 villages having ‘Har Ghar Jal’ Status.
With utilization of close to 90%, the State is progressing well on the PMKSY-HKKP (Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayi Yojana – Har Khet Ko Paani) scheme.
Massive Afforestation projects were undertaken in the last 5 years to save critical catchments. Meghalaya government has initiated Payment for Ecosystem Services (with funding support from KFW and World Bank) to ensure sustainable continuity of water resources.
Meghalaya Government is in the process of mapping over 7,000 Springs in the State and towards steady conservation of water, 1,000 Small Multipurpose Reservoirs (SMRs) in all the Districts of the State with funding support from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) are being established. These water harvesting structures would lead to significant livelihood generation.
The 1st Phase of the project would develop approximately 3000 Hectares of agricultural land thus generating livelihood opportunities for the people. Two villages in West Garo Hills have won the second and third prize in the best village panchayat category scheme (3rd National Water Awards) towards conservation.
Other major Water Supply Schemes like the Greater Shillong Water Supply Scheme Phase III, Nongstoin Urban Water Supply Scheme and Ampati Water Supply Scheme are at various stages of completion. The Baghmara Water Supply Scheme was completed and inaugurated. The William Nagar Water Supply Scheme has also been initiated.
While speaking on this important occasion CM said: “We are here to ensure that we manage, protect and conserve water in the most efficient way possible. At the end of the day, we should ensure that we are able to provide enough and sufficient drinking water to the citizens of our state. Meghalaya has had a holistic plan of ensuring that we protect our water bodies, catchment areas, rejuvenate our spring shells, rejuvenate groundwater and create reservoirs. We have apportioned a substantial budget for Water Projects in the coming years to establish Meghalaya as a robust State in terms of Water Resources.”
The Event was also graced by Guest of Honours – Comingone Ymbon, Minister of Water Resource and Marcuise N. Marak, Minister of Public Health Engineering. Contributed