Shillong, February 7 : The prelude to the highly anticipated International Water Conclave 2024 concluded today with a successful Curtain Raiser event at the State Convention Centre, Shillong. Attended by esteemed dignitaries, experts, and stakeholders, the event set the stage for meaningful discussions and collaborations aimed at addressing water challenges in hill states.

The Curtain Raiser event commenced with fervor as it was graced by the presence of esteemed dignitaries, including the Hon’ble Minister of the Water Resources Department, Coming One Ymbon, Additional Chief Secretary, Dr. Shakil P. Ahammed, IAS, Commissioner & Secretary, Soil & Water Conservation Department, Dr. Joram Beda, IAS, and S.C. Sadhu, IAS, Secy. Water Resources, along with various other key officials, experts, and stakeholders from the water conservation sector.

Minister of the Water Resources Department, Coming One Ymbon, delivered an inspiring keynote address. He said, “Water is the essence of life and it has been an integral part of our culture and tradition. We are faced with the reality of war, grappling with water scarcity, pollution, and climate change. These challenges transcend borders and demand a collective response from all of us. In Meghalaya, we have recognized the importance of sustainable water management as a cornerstone of our development agenda through innovative policies, community-driven initiatives, and partnerships with stakeholders. We are trying to ensure equitable access to clean and safe water for all while preserving our natural ecosystem. However, our effort alone is not enough. We must collaborate across borders, share knowledge and best practices, and harness the power of technology and innovation to address the complex challenges facing the world’s water resources. These conclaves provide a uniform platform for such collaboration and exchange of ideas. Over the next couple of days, experts and practitioners from various parts of the world will deliberate on improving the quality of our water resources and how to make them sustainable.”

Dr. Shakil P. Ahammed, IAS, Additional Chief Secretary also shared his insights during the event. Encouraging the younger generation to keep the spirit of conservation in their hearts and minds, as what is left of nature was once conserved by the forefathers, he said, “If we don’t save our planet, if we don’t protect water, if we don’t protect nature, the coming generation could have a difficult future. To prevent that, I think we need to understand the value of nature’s nectar, that is water. The only way to live in the future would be reducing usage, recycling water, rejuvenating resources, and respecting water, nothing less than this because the demand has to be reduced as the supply is almost stagnant or may decrease. Demand Management and water budgeting are what is required, along with water recycling and reuse.”

Dr. Joram Beda, IAS, Commissioner & Secretary, Soil & Water Conservation Department, said, “As far as the Jal Jeevan Mission is considered, we have crossed 50% of the functional household tap connections. Still, a significant number of our population have to walk significant steps from the water sources to their residences. We thought it fitting to have an International Water conference to stamp our leadership roles in water conservation. There is no doubt that Meghalaya has a leadership position in water and soil conservation.”

Before the commencement of the Curtain Raiser, the event saw eager participation in the various finals of the pre-conclave contests. Participants expressed optimism regarding the forthcoming International Water Conclave and emphasized the significance of ongoing cooperation in addressing water challenges.

Additionally, a water exhibition was held concurrently, organized by the following departments:
1. Central Ground Water Board Sustainable Groundwater Management The top four exhibitions will be assigned booths for display at the Marriott.
2. Meghalaya State Pollution Control Board Water Quality Aspects
3. Central Water Commission Various Schemes Under MOJS
4. Brahmaputra Board River Training Works
5. Water Resources Deptt. Activities Under NHP
6. SCSTE Rainwater Harvesting
7. MINR Hydroger and Types of Turbines

As the Curtain Raiser event came to a close, participants departed with a renewed sense of purpose and a collective dedication to furthering water conservation endeavors in hill states.