Sunday, December 20, 2009

India's wettest place 'lacks water'

Subir Bhaumik in the BBC: Once the world's wettest places, Cherrapunji is getting up to 20% less rain every year - and is suffering water shortages. Residents say their heavenly abode in the clouds is hotter and drier than ever before - and they blame it on global warming.

Cherrapunji - or Sohra in the local Khasi language - is located in the West Khasi Hills of India's north-eastern state of Meghalaya. "Never were there very big forests around Cherrapunji and many of those that are there are sacred to us," says Millergrace Symlieh, a senior member of Sohra Science Society.

"We never cut a branch in these sacred forests. So you cannot say this adverse weather change is our creation. We are affected by what's happening all over the world," he told the BBC. "This hot weather and less rain here is not due to huge deforestation or massive industrialisation," says Mr Symlieh. "We only have a cement plant near here."

Cherrapunji's weather office says the average annual rainfall in the town has dropped by about 20% in the last five years - though the trend started a decade ago. "It is basically since 2005 that we are often getting 800cm-900cm of rain in Cherrapunji annually - against the normal average of 1100cm," says one of the office's staff, Amit Chaudhuri….

A sign outside Cherrapunji, shot by RMehra, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 License

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