National, February 10, 2024: The International Water Conclave organized by the Ministry of Water Resources, Government of Meghalaya was held on Friday wherein the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Meghalaya, Shri. Conrad Sangma stressed on the use of technology pertaining to using such information technology data, data analytics and predictive models to be able to create a better overall management of water.
Dignitaries present on the occasion were Smti. Debashree Mukherjee, IAS, Secretary – Ministry of Jal Shakti, Government of India, Dr Shakil P. Ahammed, Additional Chief Secretary, Government of Meghalaya, Dr. Joram Beda, IAS, Commissioner Secretary, Government of Meghalaya.
Speaking on the occasion, Shri. Conrad Sangma, Hon’ble Chief Minister said, “I think it’s very key for us to be able to really use the data that we get to be able to create predictable models, which will help us save a lot of time in the future. I would like to see conclave discuss is really the use of technology. We are working very closely with NESAC (North Eastern Space Applications Center) which is the space agency here. And they are monitoring our different springs, reservoirs, forest cover, and agricultural activities, mining activities. We’ll be coming up with something called the Data Innovation Center in Meghalaya. And the idea of this data information center is to be able to collect these data and information departmentally superimpose them on different departmental information and be able to create a predictability model.”
He added, “The objective of this actual conference and the conclave is to bring everybody together, department wise throughout state government throughout different organizations throughout society to realize that we need to keep our eye on the ball and we need to address the issues and not just focus on scheme, implementation or completion of certain times. When it comes to environment and water related issues, water doesn’t have boundaries, and hence it is important that different state governments talk to each other, different countries talk to each other. We were one of the few states that came out with a water policy. And this water policy actually is a holistic approach to everything from drinking water to the reservoirs to catchment protection to the spring rejuvenation to overall proper management of water so on and so forth. And this particular water policy is in fact what is driving and guiding us to address many issues when it comes to water related issues. We have 6800 plus villages in our state and today we have a water committee in every village and therefore whenever the water issues are coming up, we ensure that these committees take up this issue, work with the state government, work with the district and the block officials, work with the departments and then come up with a holistic approach so that it’s sustainable also in nature, at the grassroot level.”
Speaking about the implementation of Jal Jeevan Mission, the Hon’ble Chief Minister said, “If you look at the overall data, which is the overall increase in the number of number of connections, you have water connections, Meghalaya is the second highest in the country we started off with less than 1%, we were at 0.75% coverage in 2019. Today, we are over 70% almost touching 75%. And we expect that we should be able to cross 90% plus, when it comes to Jal Jeevan and functional tap connections at the household level by 90% by the end of this financial year.”
The Hon’ble Chief Minister also drew the attention of Smti. Debashree Mukherjee, IAS, Secretary – Ministry of Jal Shakti, Government of India, about two major rivers in Shillong – Umshyrpi and Wah Umkhrah, stating that these two rivers need special attention and informed that he is in constant touch with Jal Shakti ministry to find solutions to this. He said, “I have taken up the matter with our Honourable Minister and he has assured us of full support. And he has asked us to re-look into the entire proposal which we are doing as we speak and hopefully about a couple of months time, we should be going back to you to ask you to support us in rejuvenating some of the more critical rivers and streams in Shillong City as well as in other parts of the state.”
Smti. Debashree Mukherjee, IAS, Secretary – Ministry of Jal Shakti, Government of India said, “Meghalaya has done solid work. this is the first state in the Northeast that has enacted its own water policy. I would urge that we consider looking also at regulatory structures. An integrated regulator will be really a good idea. In the participation of communities, there is enormous amounts to learn from what Meghalaya has done. But again, this forum is a very important event to be able to improve the issue of collaboration and mutual learning. The government of India is available to provide technical support. We exist to facilitate, to support the states and it is through the actions of the states that the water security of the country is ensured.”
She applauded the state government for doing well in the area pertaining to the mapping of springs.
The first day of the Conclave featured several sessions covering topics like Best Practices in Water Conservation, Water & Infrastructure Development, and Springshed Development, among others. These sessions facilitated the sharing of insights and knowledge, with participants hailing from neighboring countries.
In the evening, attendees were treated to a vibrant cultural program. The International Water Conclave acts as a forum for meaningful discussions and joint endeavours aimed at promoting sustainable water management practices not only in Meghalaya but also in broader contexts