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Herojit Nongmaithem

Herojit Nongmaithem

Herojit Nongmaithem is a senior Geologist at Geological Survey of India North Eastern Region. He is a regular contributor of Imphal Times and writes articles relating to Geology.
Herojit can be contacted at [email protected]

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Water Scarcity at Imphal; which may darken our future to Water Crisis

Yet again, amidst the global pandemic of Covid-19, the water problem in Imphal became the talk of the hour. The state was declared drought hit during August-September last year and it has hardly been 200 days after, the recurring problem of water scarcity resurfaced again in Imphal. Although drought was declared in 2009 and 2019 only during the last decade, the acute water shortage problem has been an annual phenomenon for our state.
Much came into limelight when people during the long lockdown are forced to buy water at Rs. 60 to 70 per jar. Even news of buying them at Rs. 100 was seen in social media. When both people and government are busy framing lockdown rules, monitoring Covid-19 by tracing, tracking and testing, quarantining, isolating and then treating; water scarcity problem has been sidelined. What need to be done at this juncture is to find an immediate solution. It is not easy but certainly can be done. The unsung humanity is providing the solution either as individuals -politician, philanthropists or groups-NGOs, clubs, institutions are distributing water to the needy masses.
As per research paper on the Journal of Rural Development (SS Hanjabam, 2018) the state government is able to provide only 70 million litres per day (MLD) against the required 101.9 MLD. This clearly suggests that another 30 MLD is to be provided via private agencies. The harse reality is that, these private agencies in most cases, receive their water from the government based reservoirs where they compromise public responsibility. Even worse case scenario happens during the momentous winter-dry months of March-April annually in which the water levels of Imphal, Iril, Nambul, Thoubal are far below useable level.
In the lights of these acute water scarcity issues during the dry seasons, a personal experience needs to be shared to all the readers. In one of the social media, a very concerned citizen came up “Why not our super scientist, engineers, etc from our state to fix this water problems once for all.... Its happening regularly for the last 10 yrs... Please don’t say we don’t receive enough rain water every year.” The guy rightly points out who should come forward to solve the problem. A systematic scientific remedy needs to formulate to cope up the issue. However, the water issue is still in the initial phase were a little seriousness by the state authority and effective implementation by the governmental mercenaries can nullify the problem almost by ~ 95% and the rest ~5% requires an out of the box work.
The author feels that this grim water issue can be solved at ease. Let us again feel few more instances. Where from the package water come from? Where does water jar get fill up? Are the water tankers not available at all? The answers clearly depict the solution. It means that enough water is still available. Only matters are money and a good distribution policy.  
In the long run, however an ever lasting solution is a must. To find the long term solution, lets go through some of the facts and figures. As per 2011 Census, 268,243 is the population of Imphal city while its urban / metropolitan population is 418,739. Following the www.macrotrends.net the estimated population of Imphal in 2020 would be 576,000 assuming at a growth rate of 3.23% from 2019. This increase will certainly pose a grim future which at some point of time may even create an irreversible water crisis. Here few scientific interventions are necessary to procrastinate the water crisis.
The first and foremost step is to digest all the possible causes of water depletion and adopt all possible measures to minimize. To list a few - Over exploitation or excessive pumping to meet increasing water demand, excessive consumption, Urbanization and expansion of paved surface areas, minimizing traditional water conservation structures like ponds and tanks, non availability of other source of water for domestic uses, lack of awareness and insanitary disposal of waste to river and streams.
The second part is to identify possible study areas where to harvest and artificially recharge the water. The upstream basinal locations along the course of the major rivers will be the ideal locations to take up the projects. Awang Sekmai for Imphal River, Sawmbung-Lamlai for Iril River, Lamsang for Nambul River, Yairipok for Thoubal River, Pallel for Sekmai River, Saikot for Khuga River will be suitable locations where either proper harvest and artificial recharge can be initiated.
The actual scientific intervention norms are clearly outlined in Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) guidelines. These methods can broadly be classed into Direct & Indirect methods. Direct methods to be applied for surface include flooding, ditch and furrows, recharge basin, bench terracing, contour bunds and contour trenches, check dams, gully plugging, stream modifications, irrigation methods, etc. Amongst Sub-surface techniques, recharge wells, shafts and pits, etc may prove fruitful. Induced recharged and Aquifer modification can be done through Indirect methods. These methods need a proper survey of the water table, lithology, geological structures to adopt the most apt with least economic expense and minimum social issues. Fulfilling these steps will take around another five year.
So the need of the hour is to adopt rain water harvesting techniques at different levels i,e, from individual homes to government. Public awareness for the use of recycle water for different categorical uses, minimise water loss through distribution will be immensely helpful. Stringent implementation of water supply system of government machineries for PHED can also effectively rule out the present problem. Otherwise, the gloom day of “DAY ZERO” for the Cape Town and Johannesburg cities during 2018 may arise in the near future. Though the front line crusaders -doctors, nurses and police may prove combating the Covid-19, it is the people who should stay home and maintain social and physical distancing norms to defeat the global pandemic. Let the government do its policy and planning for minimising the crisis while all of us should contribute its own bit by changing the habit of bizarre water uses. Same applies for combating the water crisis. Like the saying “Make Hay while the Sun Shines”, act aptly.

GLOBAL POSITIONING SYSTEM; for REAL TIME GEO-LOCATION

As a human being surviving on the mother earth, all should have a specific geographic location. Nowadays with the advancing technology, not only the humans, all motile living creatures can be geo tagged for monitoring their real time moments. These are possible through the SATNAV system of which the most popular and advanced is the Global Positioning System (GPS).
A satellite navigation or satnav system is a system that uses satellites to provide autonomous geo-spatial positioning. It allows small electronic receivers to determine their location (longitude, latitude, and altitude/elevation) to high precision (within a few centimeters to metres). The system can be used for providing position, navigation or for tracking the position of something fitted with a receiver (satellite tracking). The signals also allow the electronic receiver to calculate the current local time to high precision, which allows time synchronisation. These uses are collectively known as Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT). These systems operate independently of any telephonic or internet reception.
A satellite navigation system with global coverage may be termed a global navigation satellite system (GNSS). The United States’ Global Positioning System (GPS) and Russia’s Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS) are fully operational GNSSs, with China’s BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) and the European Union’s Galileo scheduled to be fully operational by 2020.  India has the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS), also known as Navigation with Indian Constellation (NAVIC), an autonomous regional satellite navigation system that provides accurate real-time positioning and timing services, with plans to expand to a global version in long term.
The Global Positioning System (GPS), originally NAVSTAR GPS, is a satellite-based radio navigation system owned by the United States government and operated by the United States Space Force. It is one of the global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) that provides geo-location and time information to a GPS receiver anywhere on or near the Earth where there is an unobstructed line of sight to four or more GPS satellites.
The uses of the GPS are primarily developed for military purposes during the 1960’s by the Americans. However, the utilities are now opened to the civilians as well though the interfaces are restricted.  The uses can be grouped into civilian and military purposes. Many civilian applications use one or more of GPS’s three basic components: absolute location, relative movement, and time transfer. Some of the civilian uses include: Astronomy for positional, Automated vehicle for applying location and routes for cars and trucks to function without a human driver, Cartography, Cellular telephony for clock synchronization, Radio occultation for weather and atmospheric science applications. Geofencing in vehicle tracking systems, person tracking systems and pet tracking systems use GPS to locate devices that are attached to or carried by a person, vehicle, or pet. Telematics where GPS technology integrated with computers and mobile communications technology in automotive navigation systems are also becoming popular. The military uses include: Navigation, Target tracking, Missile and Projectile guidance, Search and Rescue and real time patrol movement monitoring.
In our society, public consider that GPS are used only by few scientists, students and military personals. However its a misnomer, which one should realise. The present day smart phones, automated vehicles, (artificial intelligence) AI operated robotics all have GPS interface which record, save and memorise even the tiniest movements. Sharing a personal experience, the Google Company memorise all the personal moments. It even classify all the moments, whether on flight, vehicle, on foot. So to unquote, each one of us using the smart phones, automated vehicles are being constantly spied by Google. This is applicable even for the chief minister, military chief, or the insurgent party. Its high time that our government should frame a legal procedure to monitor these encroachment to one’s personal space. Otherwise, these data may at any time be landed to unwanted social elements. Once that happens everybody might lose social and political integrity. While in the present context, please do be careful using these smart phones and automated vehicles. Be safe for a better future.

Aseismic Building Design in reference to Seismic Microzonation

‘Earthquake never kills; but the buildings do kill’. Hope all can perceive the irony of the quote and is much in relevance with the present day. The process of globalization is at the peak throughout the world, and the best known impact is the present day urbanization which particularly for our state is seen agglomerated in and around the Imphal city. Nevertheless, other parts of the state are on the boom of constructional phase. With the implementation of Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) and onset to launch Online Building Plan Approval System (OBPS), logical and scientific approach to the urban development needs to be sought or else will regret in the future. Much insight needs to be considered for the interdisciplinary fields like social engineering and design sciences while focusing on urban planning. The primary concern is the public welfare, which includes considerations of efficiency, sanitation, protection and use of the environment, as well as effects on social and economic activities. Although it predominantly concerns with the planning of settlements and communities, urban planning is also responsible for the planning and development of water use and resources, rural and agricultural land, parks and conserving areas of natural environmental significance. Practitioners of urban planning are concerned with research and analysis, strategic thinking, architecture, urban design, public consultation, policy recommendations, implementation and management.  
Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) [IS 1893 (Part I): 2002], has grouped the country into four seismic zones, viz. Zone II, III, IV and V and the entire state of Manipur falls under the zone V which defines the maximum seismic hazardous scale. In this perplex seismicity and earthquake hazard have a vital role to play owing to the location of Imphal city. Seismic knowledge can be explained in terms of three basics; Source, Path & Site Response. Source here implies the origin of the earthquake wave or the epicentre. It depends on the depth of the earthquake. Path indicates the route which will propagate the seismic waves; so to say the material of propagation of the wave. Practically it’s the medium of seismic wave transmission. Lastly Site Response collectively represents the spot where the intensity of the earthquake responds to the earthquake wave. For our state, findings suggest higher risk as the Path- the medium of the transmission of the seismic waves prone to disaster as the underlying rocks are soft sedimentary rocks. The entire Imphal valley has a thick alluvial cover which is highly susceptible to seismic waves and tends to magnify the earthquake intensity. Thus the Site Response factor also predict to a more disastrous outcome. It’s the Source factor which may be the protective reason withstanding from a gloomy earthquake disaster in our area where the depths of most of the earthquakes are either medium to deep seated earthquakes. So whenever shallow earthquakes do happen, the extent of damage can be manifold as the other factors are catalysed to hazard.
Questionable thoughts nowadays; Are the buildings and constructional projects obey building bylaws? Are the projects have written approval from the concerned authorities? How much of the public have awareness of the building bylaws? Are the concerned departments do faithful researches about the seismic hazard zonation?  
The author beliefs all the answers are negative. Then most part of the state, or to specify the urban Manipur itself is exposed to the most dynamic disaster EARTHQUAKE. Manipur itself by nature is prone to seismic which should be minimised by technical combat against earthquake. Few simplified basics could prevent possible wraths of earthquake.
An earthquake-resistant building has four virtues in it, namely: (a) Good Structural Configuration: Its size, shape and structural system carrying loads are such that they ensure a direct and smooth flow of inertia forces to the ground. (b) Lateral Strength: The maximum lateral (horizontal) force that it can resist is such that the damage induced in it does not result in collapse. (c) Adequate Stiffness: Its lateral load resisting system is such that the earthquake-induced deformations in it do not damage its contents under low-to moderate shaking. (d) Good Ductility: Its capacity to undergo large deformations under severe earthquake shaking even after yielding is improved by favourable design and detailing strategies. BIS has prepared guidelines for retrofitting in existing structures. A list of code books on construction practices of buildings and structures, to minimize the earthquake losses, is available. In addition to this, Housing and Urban Development Corporation (HUDCO) & Building Materials & Technology Promotion Council (BMTPC) have also published guidelines and brochures for construction and retrofitting of buildings.
Loss of life and damage of property due to earthquakes could be considerably reduced through proper planning and implementation of pre- and post-disaster preparedness and management strategies by respective State and Central Government agencies in a coordinated manner following the above mentioned guidelines. These studies involving preparation of geological, geomorphologic and land use maps followed by drilling, geological logging, standard penetration test and geophysical studies to demarcate the zones of least to most damage prone areas within the urban areas so as to helps the respective town and country planning agencies to formulate perspective planning within the overall earthquake impact minimization efforts. Based on the above steps it is mandatory for all infrastructure/building/ development agencies (Public and Private) to design appropriate earthquake resistant building plans based on the relevant BIS Codes and other guidelines of BMTPC, HUDCO and NDMA for across the country.
Imphal Municipal Corporation Building Bye-laws (First Amendment) 2019 has incorporated all the 14 provisions of the Model Building Bye-Laws, 2016. However, only considering the provisions will not solve the issue. The reason is quite evident as symptomatic treatment will not cure this natural disaster. We need to diagnose the root cause of this disaster and pre channelize our efforts to minimize its impacts. In the context, the scientific inputs about the seismically microzonated parts of Imphal city should be the base for any constructional projects. Recently concluded studies by GSI in 300 sq. km areas in and around Imphal City indicated 15.54 sq. km and 67 sq. km areas respectively as very high hazardous and high hazardous areas. Hencefort much technical rather strong administrative monitoring is vital to combat the menace of earthquake disaster.

Salt brines of Manipur: The source of Meitei Thum

The present day kids might not have seen or even heard of Meitei salt (thum), but those 90’s children must have surely tasted it. To remind again that was so tantalisingly tasty and all have ate those salt cakes. Nowadays these are only used for ritual purposes and are available only at the local markets and Ningel village. It costs heavily nowadays and these are not as tasty as it used to be.
Historical records that of Hudson (1997) in the book “The Meithies” described that the Loi communities were assigned to work for the production of salt by the Kings of Manipur. The contextual specific connotation of the term Loi is found to be different from its historical specific connotation. Ningel is reported to be the only surviving village where the production of local salt-cake is still in practice to meet the domestic, religious and ceremonial needs of the people of Manipur. The record also highlighted the effect of the earthquake of January, 1869, and there had been to increase the yield of salt water in the well enormously; the water in the Ningel well after the earthquake rose six feet, and that rise had continued up to the present time undiminished. Sharma, (1991) in the Meitrabakki Khunthok Khundarol, Waikhong was considered to be one of the prime locations where salts were manufactured mainly for the royal family. The production of salt under the patron of the king in the Meiteileipak began during the reign of King Paikhomba (1666-97).
The scientific study of these salt brines was initiated by Geological Survey of India (GSI) during the 1960’s to 80’s. Waikhong, Shikhong, Chandrakhong, Phonjoukhong, Nongnaukunon, Ningel, Keithelmanbi, Chingai, Mariamphung, Namrei, Lachaikhulen, Kharasom, Thiwa and Sanakeithel village respectively are being reported by the workers of GSI. One peculiarity from the geological perspective is that these salt brines do occur along the piedmont hills bordering the eastern margin of the Imphal valley and in the shale units of the Disang Group. Many of these are seasonal and discharge varies. They have carried out preliminary researches about the salt quality and content, pressure & temperature, total dissolved solvents, X-ray analyses, etc.
Neither the traditional method of salt production nor the conventional scientific approaches to these salt brines are at present yielding better prospects. In the context a deep insight of the possibilities of high end products can be meaningful. So to cite many of the natural salt brines across the globe are extremely rich in high end mineral commodities like lithium and rare earth elements. Worldwide identified reserves in 2018 are estimated by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) to be 16 million tonnes. The world’s top 3 lithium-producing countries from 2016, as reported by the USGS are Australia, Chile and Argentina.
The last decade have experienced a pronounced inclination in the concept of energy production and utilization more towards solar energy than your hydro and thermal energy sources; lithium ion batteries instead of your acid based batteries. That’s why this year Nobel Prize for chemistry has been awarded to the team that conceptualized in their ideas for lithium ion batteries that run almost the entire electronic gadgets ranging from those nano chips to mobile and even the techno-fitted Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Viewing these trends and possible resources at Manipur, these traditional salt brines may be targeted for the Lithium reserves instead of running the unprofitable salt cake business. This does not imply to end the much heritaged tradition of salt cakes production rather it can go hand in hand with the search of Lithium sources. One more point to be focused is to target new possibilities of salt brines locations with proper scientific approach. This will eventually bring India particularly Manipur in the world map of Lithium production.  A few investments in terms of new and prioritised investigation in these salt brines will be quite logical owing to today’s scientific approach. Let’s have the pristine taste of Meithei Thum as well as the potential of providing life to those AI’s, mobiles, e-gadgets from the soil of Manipur.