SHILLONG, Sep 05: After a long spell of rains in Meghalaya, people in the capital Shillong carry on with their day to day chores braving the rain under a cloud of fear among those residing along the river banks of one of the city’s prominent river- Wahumkhrah.
The river is threatening to spill over its anger against those who reside along its banks and rightly so as the once pristine river has been now been reduced to a drain.
Sporadic incidences of the river washing away houses and humans have been reported in the past and the threat still lurks large.
Once a clean flowing river, the Wahmukhrah now has been robbed off all its charm and reflects the atrocities of man meted out on the environment. The once clear water of the river now looks brownish and it still continues to carry along with it the dirt, filth and garbage of the city.
While the Swaach Bharat Campaign is making headlines elsewhere few of the people residing along the banks of 4th Furlong are giving it a different meaning altogether by indulging in what may be horrific for others.
Drainage outlets into the Wahumkhrah is a common sight, however what is alarming is the sight of a few of the residents bathing, washing clothes and even utensils in the polluted waters of Wahumkhrah.
According to the World Health Organization, water borne diseases account for an estimated 3.6% of the total global burden of disease, and cause about 1.5 million human deaths annually. The World Health Organization estimates that 58% of that burden, or 842,000 deaths per year, is attributable to unsafe water supply, sanitation and hygiene.
Call it the ignorance of the illiterate or the wanton disregard of the educated to inform them of basic health issues, residents of the 4th furlong stretch in the city are blissfully unaware of the dangers posed to them by their day to day activity involving the waters of Wahumkhrah.
While everything from health to nature seems to be taking a toss and few cleaning drives to clean the river ended up as symbolic gestures only, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) intervene in its bit to save the river.
The National Green Tribunal gave three months time and directed the Meghalaya Urban Development Authority or MUDA to carry out the demolition of all unauthorized structures along the Wahumkhrah River. However, the demolition was stalled after 30 petitioners secured an interim stay order from the Civil Court. But the order was short lived after the High Court of Meghalaya set aside the interim order of the civil court. The petitioners filed a special leave petition in the Supreme Court following the order of the High Court.
The Supreme Court stayed the recent directives of the High Court of Meghalaya to MUDA to go ahead with the demolition of illegal structures along the Wahumkhrah river. The order came a day before MUDA was set to carry out the demolition of illegal constructions.
Amid all the legal battles, debate, and awareness campaign to save the river, Wakumkhrah continues to lose its charm. The deterioration of the Wah Umkhrah, from a pristine water body to little more than an open drain has been much mourned by the people who live on its banks.
The Wahumkhrah continues to flow – not as a river but as an oversized drain – emanating foul smell, and carrying the dirt and filth of all illegal settlers who have made the river banks their home and business centres.