TODAY -

Water use during water crisis: Hunphun/Ukhrul Town

Mingyashin Shaiza *

 Water use during water crisis: Hunphun/Ukhrul Town
Water use during water crisis: Hunphun/Ukhrul Town :: Pix - TSE



I was born in Ukhrul town (Locally known as Hunphun) and lived there for the most part of my life. Ukhrul is home to diverse communities, some exotic birds and animals and many exotic plants. It is often described as a small but vibrant town that offers a unique blend of natural beauty, cultural richness, and adventure for the visitors.

Ukhrul is a town located in the North Eastern State of Manipur, India. It is the headquarters of the Ukhrul district and is situated at an elevation of about 1,849 meters above sea level. The town is surrounded by lush green hills and is known for its natural beauty and unique culture.

Although Ukhrul is located on the hill and is surrounded by forest, the people in town still suffer from water crises during the dry season. According to the State Climate Change cell report, the average annual rainfall was 412.74mm in 2015. The rainy season in the district is from May to the beginning of October, says the report.

Water crisis in Hunphun/Ukhrul Town is a common issue for the people starting from December till the beginning of May. During this season, most households, mainly the ones located in the inner part of the town, suffer from water crises. I could see the people waking up as early as 4 am and rushing to the nearest stream or community pond to fetch a pot or two of water.

Talking to the women and the boys who had come to fetch water, they told me that they have to get up as early as possible and rush to the pond or else they have to wait in a long queue for hours just to get a bucket or a pot of water.

“This is our main source of water. We fetch water from this tanky (water tank) throughout the year. But during winter or dry season we have to get up much earlier, even though it’s freezing, to get the water that is filled by the stream overnight or else we have to wait for it to get filled up again. Around 30 households depend on this spring water so we have to stand in a long queue and wait for our turn. And that could go on for hours. We don’t have time to wait as we have to prepare for children’s school and finish our morning chores,” said a mother in Khampasom.

A boy boasted and said in a playful manner, see these muscles? I don’t need to go to the gym when I can fetch water every day, he laughed.

Going around the inner part of the town, I also observed that a community pond or spring water was preserved and protected by a building fence with barbed wire around the area. Most localities had also built tanks with community effort during the project taken up under MGNREGS.

This way some of them, depending on their construction, have free flowing water that makes it easier for them to collect. Some had built steps and constructed tanks around the pond which gave them better access to the water.

When asked about how they manage water in their household with as little as 40 to 50 liters per day, Achon said, “I try to manage daily by collecting the used water and reusing it to water my plants in the garden. Sometimes I save the used water to wash sooted pots or wash mop clothes and foot mats. I also use the dirty water to flush the toilet or water the dusty road. We are throwing it out anyway so why not make use of it,” she added.

“During the rainy season we try to collect the rainwater from the roof in our drum and sintex but it often gets filled up immediately. Since we don’t have a big tanky or underground water tanky we could not collect and save the overflow water to use it for the dry season,” said Achon.

According to the PHED Department Ukhrul, considering the pipeline connections, the water demand in the town is 14 lakh liters per day. Although during the dry season, the water available in the source is not more than five lakh liters per day.

Assistant Engineer, PHED, Ukhrul informed that the main source of water for Ukhrul town is the spring water from Shirui Kashong and Ringuira.

“We supply pipelines to around 1400 households in the town and water supply used to be enough for the people. Due to an increase in population and deforestation, the quantity of water from the source has gone down and the supply is not enough for the people,” he said.

“The water supply from the pipeline is given every 4th or 5th day during this season. The department had also installed hand pumps in some areas and it is a good source of water for most of the people.

“Whenever possible, we inform the village authority and give them awareness about the importance of trees in retaining rainwater. We also informed them about why it is important to protect the trees and forest. Most of the huge trees in Shirui are gone and there are only a few of them left now. Big trees are very important for spring water,” he added.

Report by Earth Reminder mentioned that the Earth’s water cycle relies heavily on trees as trees absorb water and release it through their leaves. Any reduction of trees in a particular area drastically affects the humidity levels in the atmosphere, thereby affecting the set process of the water cycle.

The report further says that forests act as a giant reservoir of water, which they slowly release into the environment, that keeps the water cycle going continuously. So, by reducing the number of trees, deforestation disturbs the ability of the forest to recycle the water which then leads to lower rainfall, global warming and climate change.


This research was conducted and published under the media fellowship of the Directorate of Environment and Climate Change, Manipur


* Mingyashin Shaiza wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on 04 March 2023

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