Andaman Islands tap WW II wells amid water shortage


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Jan 16, 2006
Vicksburg, MS
Andaman Islands tap WW II wells amid water shortage

By Sanjib Kumar Roy Fri Mar 23, 7:30 AM ET

PORT BLAIR, India (Reuters) - Water shortages are forcing authorities in the Andaman Islands to tap dozens of World War II wells as the tourist destination struggles to cope with an influx of visitors, officials said on Friday.

The return of tourism after the 2004 tsunami, combined with a lack of rain, has caused severe shortages in the archipelago, located about 1,200 km east of the Indian mainland, officials said.

"Increasing tourists are definitely causing more shortages and we have asked all agencies to look for alternative sources of water, including wells," Krishna Sharan Singh, chief of the islands' disaster management unit, said in Port Blair.

Authorities are rationing water and cleaning old wells dug by Japanese forces in the mid-1940s, but many people think this is only a temporary solution.

"Every year we face the same problem but no one seems to be learning," said Samir Acharya, secretary of the Society for Andaman and Nicobar Ecology, a local environmental group.

"There is an urgent need to build water reservoirs and plan water harvesting as tourism is back in Andamans," Acharya said in the islands' capital Port Blair.

Local residents also complain about the lack of planning.

"Even if we harness two percent of rain water every year, we should do fine," said Govind Raju, an author.

At least 191 wells were dug by the Japanese military during their occupation of the archipelago between 1942 and 1945, officials said, adding they are still in good condition.

The Andamans were badly hit by the December 26, 2004 tsunami with more than 3,500 people killed and nearly 40,000 displaced.

It also hit tourism with only around 32,000 tourists visiting the Andamans in 2005, officials said. But tourism was booming now, with over 118,000 tourists visiting last year.

The archipelago is famous for its pristine beaches, coral reefs and sparking sands lapped by the emerald waters of the Indian Ocean.
That can't be good. :/

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