By: Kishori Lal
Mandi: In the worst-ever scarcity of drinking water shortage in the past four decades in a cluster of villages spread over 4,000 sq km hilly terrain in the far-flung areas of this district, the normal life of over nine lakh persons, 95 per cent of them living in villages, seems to have gone out of gear.
While water shortage has often troubled Mandi district, this year the situation has been real bad with even Mandi town facing severe shortage. The situation is so bad that some villages have been without water for more than two months now and the summer sun is yet to show its fury. “The IPH department is having sleepless nights in coping with the worsening water supply situation in the district. As many as 75 tankers have been pressed into service through the Natural Calamity Fund – including 40 in Mandi Sadar, 14 in Sarkaghat and 3 in Jogindernagar,” deputy commissioner Amandeep Garg disclosed. Chief engineer, IPH, SK Vats, said 35 hand pumps were being bored on a war-footing in the worst hit areas.
The worst hit areas are Sarkaghat, Rewalwar, Lad Bharol, Padhar, Bari Gumanu, Mandi Sadar, Gohar, Panarsa and Sanaur Valley. The situation is getting from bad to worse with each passing day. Vats said tube wells in Balh area have been the only source of drinking water being used to fill tankers. While officials claim that there have been technical problems in some water supply schemes besides an unusually dry spring season, environmentalists claim 70 to 80 per cent water sources in the district have dried up due to lack of awareness among locals to preserve and recharge traditional water systems. Besides, illicit and indiscriminate mining is making matters worse. Though lately a strong movement has been taking shape in the district to preserve green cover and natural water sources, it appears this summers would prove the harshest one our generation has ever seen.