Water crisis is real

Monday Musing

[ Junroi Mamai ]

With the onset of winter comes the problem of water shortage everywhere in the state as the rains which feed our numerous water sources have now stopped. Water crisis is real. Every year, with the arrival of winter, the water sources dry up and people in villages and townships complain of water shortage. We have witnessed how in recent years our water sources have drastically reduced, leading to growing shortage of water everywhere.

In Arunachal, there are a number of major rivers like Kameng, Siang, Tirap, etc, but the main sources of our potable water are the various small rivulets and springs. These small rivulets and springs are our perennial sources of water, which are now gradually drying up, owing to the prevalence of large-scale deforestation, mining and crash and burn system of farming, especially in the hilly terrains of the state.

Although our government has put many laws and regulations in place to check and streamline these activities in the state, all of these laws and regulations remain ineffective at the ground level.

Jhum cultivators continue to clear up and burn large areas of the forests for their next crop around this time of the year, despite the government strictly prohibiting the practice. Apart from the prevailing jhum cultivation system, the introduction of cash crops like tea, cardamom, arecanut, etc, has also contributed to the depletion of forest coverage as these crops are cultivated in large areas of land.

Incessant logging and mining of coal and boulders have further drained the land of water and destroyed the rich flora and fauna.

Changlang district, for instance, has been facing the brunt of these logging and mining activities for many years. Unregulated logging carried out every year has led to gradual drying up of most of the perennial water sources there. The unhindered operation of many band saw mills and veneer and plywood mills around the year is not only depleting the forest resources but is also polluting the environment. Here the forest department needs to ensure that the forest working plan is strictly implemented for sustainable management of forests and biodiversity.

Apart from the problem of unregulated logging, another concerning issue the district had faced earlier was coal mining activities, which have now been halted by the government. The activities had, however, severely destroyed the forests and water resources in Changlang’s Rangrinkan village near the Assam boundary. The destruction caused by such activities to the forest, land and water bodies there is irreversible. The land is completely barren, devoid of any tree, while the nearby small streams have all dried up. In a few years from now, the villagers will have to shift to another location and resettle there because they will not have any source of water left.

The environmental impact of unhindered logging, mining and destruction of forests is severe and will not stop if we continue to destroy our pristine forests and water sources. If people and our government do not wake up and take action soon, the water crisis will only worsen with each year.