Meghalaya rolls out water mission

SHILLONG: Though the Abode of Clouds, with its numerous meandering streamlets, cascading waterfalls and natural springs, is one of the most rain-drenched places in the world, potable water for all is still a distant dream here, primarily due to lack of rainwater harvesting and other measures to retain free flowing water.

To address the issue, the state government on Friday spelt out a Water Mission Vision to provide safe and adequate water to all by the time Meghalaya celebrates 50 years of statehood in the year 2022. The vision was announced by chief minister Mukul Sangma, who chaired the first meeting of the Meghalaya State Water Resource Council here. The meeting discussed significant issues concerning water quality and livelihood.

"The meeting emphasized that while availability of water is critical to ensure sustainable livelihoods, it is also extremely important to ensure that development does not take place at the cost of the environment, caused by over exploitation of available resources or pollution," an official said. "The council has decided to put together a comprehensive water quality monitoring system and appropriate regulatory frameworks to ensure sustainable water resources management, particularly in over-exploited urban areas," the official said.

The council also approved the 'Water Plus' initiative focusing on making incremental investments in the waterbodies already created and harnessing the best value from such investments by putting in place an Integrated Water Resources Management system.

The council also laid special emphasis on "water governance" at all levels, starting from individual farmers to villages, districts and the state as a whole. The Water Mission is one of the nine missions under the state government's flagship Integrated Basin Development and Livelihood Promotion programme.