The people in Manipur are facing acute drinking water shortage as the government’s water supply facilities have stopped functioning since the rivers, which are the only sources of water, have gone dry.

On the other hand, numerous private traders who have been earning a comfortable income by selling drinking water to each house have hiked the price. The government fire-fighting employees are worried since there is no water in case of fires.

Reports say that the major rivers that pass through the Imphal areas, namely the Imphal, the Iril, have gone dry. Besides, smaller rivers like the Nambul have only ankle-deep water-level. There has not been rain for several months in Manipur. All the rivers in Manipur empty into the Loktak, the largest natural lake in Eastern India. But the National Hydroelectric Power Project has been generating 105 MW using the lake water around the clock. This is one of the reasons for the depleting water level since water used by the three turbines is siphoned off towards Assam instead of recycling it.

There was a sigh of relief when there were some rains and hailstorm two days ago. But then the rains were too scanty to be of meaning or comfort to the farmers. Since the water level of the rivers did not increase the water supply situation remains unchanged. The water supply schemes at Chinga, Singda, Poormpat and others had shut down. A government notification says that the supply will be suspended for the time being.

All these years, private water suppliers have been earning hefty incomes by delivering drinking water to each house at the rate of Rs. 100 per 500 litres. But in the past few weeks the price has been doubled. Some of these suppliers had closed down shops as there is no raw water for them.

The Public Health Engineering Department makes it a point to deliver raw and treated water to the residences of the elected representatives and high officials every day. However sources said that the department is facing issues now since there is no raw water. Meanwhile, traders have been bringing truckloads of bottled water from other NE states for brisk sale in Manipur.

Government sources told The Hindu that if the situation does not improve in the coming days the union government will be urged to declare Manipur as a drought-hit state.

Health officials also fear that there may be an outbreak of water-borne diseases since the people have to drink impure and contaminated water.