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Water scarcity hits 'wettest place' on earth

Last updated on: September 2, 2010 15:26 IST

Water scarcity hits 'wettest place' on earth

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Once the 'wettest place' on earth because of the copious amounts of rainfall it received throughout the year, the beautiful town of Cherrapunjee in Meghalaya is now struggling with an acute water shortage.

Cherrapunjee or Sohra lost its crown recently, thanks to a change in the course of moisture bearing clouds, which have been lashing the neighbouring town of Mawsynram.

Reportage: K Anurag in Guwahati


Image: A breathtaking view of Cherrapunjee
Photographs: E M Jose
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Clouds play hide and seek

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Cherrapunjee, located 56 kms from Meghalaya's capital Shillong, receives an average annual rainfall of 11,443 mm, 443 mm lesser than Mawsynram. The clouds altered their course due to the rapid shrinkage of forest cover in the area.

Hordes of tourists still throng the picturesque town to enjoy the incessant rains during  monsoons and catch a glimpse of the grand waterfalls playing hide and seek with the clouds.


Image: One of the many waterfalls near Cherrapunjee
Photographs: Arun Bhat
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Rainfall is scanty in non-monsoon months

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But locals face an acute shortage of drinking water after the monsoons, when the rainfall becomes scanty. Many of the breath-taking waterfalls and springs, which used to be a source of potable water for the populace over the years, have dried up now.

The Meghalaya government is trying to salvage the situation by setting up the Greater Cherrapunjee Water Supply Scheme by the end of this year at a cost of Rs 4.13 crore.

According to Meghalaya Minister for Public Health Engineering Prestone Tynsong, the scheme will benefit people across Cherrapunjee.


Image: A boy carries drinking water containers from a trolley in Cherrapunjee
Photographs: Jayanta Shaw/Reuters
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Centre has allotted Rs 86 crore to Cherrapunjee

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"Once the water supply scheme becomes operational, the people of Cherrapunjee will no longer have to take the trouble of walking miles to fetch potable water," he said.

The scheme will supply drinking water to nearly 25,000 families.

The Centre recently allotted Rs 86 crore to restore the scenic beauty and greenery of this internationally renowned tourist spot.


Image: A signboard near the town
Photographs: R Mehra/Wiki Commons
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Rainwater harvesting project on the anvil

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In this first year of the implementation of the programme, the State Planning Department has allotted Rs 5 crore to solve the water scarcity in the town.

The state government is also taking other steps to tackle the situation. On the anvil is a rainwater harvesting project in some villages in Cherrapunjee area and specially-designed water tanks that will be imported from Israel, to encourage locals to save rainwater during the monsoon season.



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