Shillong: Imagine the world’s wettest place facing water shortage, and that too every year during the post-monsoon and winter period.
This is exactly what happens with Cherrapunjee, 56 km from here, and to cope with this peculiar problem, the Meghalaya government has roped in Israeli experts.
Concerned over the plight of the people, the state government has inked an agreement with the Centre for International Agricultural Development Cooperation (CIADC) of the Israeli agriculture ministry for technical collaboration in rainwater harvesting in Cherrapunjee (now called Sohra) and other parts of the state that receive heavy rainfall.
According to Meghalaya Chief Secretary Ranjan Chatterjee, the CIADC would provide sustained education on rainwater harvesting and creation of structures for it, besides funding pilot projects for regenerating forest cover in barren land.
“Though Sohra receives 12,000-mm rainfall every year, it faces acute water scarcity during post-monsoon months. A delegation of the Meghalaya government, which visited Tel Aviv recently signed an agreement with the CIADC for technical collaboration in rainwater harvesting in Sohra and other parts of the state, which receive heavy rainfall,” Chatterjee said.
The modalities for implementation of the projects would be worked out within six months and further information between the Israeli firms and the state government exchanged before starting the projects.
According to meteorologist H.N. Das of Assam’s Regional Meteorological Centre, Cherrapunjee received just 54.5 mm rainfall during the post-monsoon months (October to December) in 2006, while January witnessed no rain at all.
This is in sharp contrast to the normal annual rainfall of 11,075 mm in the place, known to be wettest place on the earth.
Even in the monsoon months (January-September), Cherrapunjee received a shortage of nearly 3,000 mm of rainfall in 2006 as compared to its normal.
Women and children trudging uphill with water-filled clay pots on their backs from deep gorges is a common sight in Cherrapunjee today.
Besides, the perennial springs gushing out abundant water in the recent past are now on the verge of drying up due to large-scale and random destruction of forests.
Cherrapunjee receives about 20,000 tourists annually and tourism here depends more on the fame of it being the world’s rainiest place.