WHO-funded pump project will soon deliver the precious resource to Shumar and Zobel

Water: Water shortage in two gewogs of Shumar and Zobel in Pemagatshel is expected to be addressed soon, as the dzongkhag’s long awaited project to pump water from Khonmari stream nears completion.

Benefitting two gewogs with an estimated population of 7,430, the Nu 95M (million) project is expected to address the acute water shortage the villagers have been living with for decades.

Officials said the three water pumps have been installed to supply water to every household.  Two of the motor pumps will be used every day, with the third on standby.

Located in Zobel gewog, water would be pumped from the Khonmari stream, some three kilometres from the gewog.

Project engineer Karma Dorji said, based on the study, the stream is enough to cater water to all homes.  During summer, the pumps would be able to discharge 100 litres of water a second and 20 litres a second during winter.

“The project is designed to last until 2030 and, with two percent population growth every year, we estimated the project would benefit a population of 11,261,” he said. “The source is nearest to the two gewogs and the project will also benefit basic health unit and schools.”

Karma Dorji said it was the first of its kind in Bhutan, where four stages of water pumping have been designed using submersible pumps.

Most villagers today fetch water from nearby streams after walking uphill for hours.  Some use their vehicles to fetch water, but many said it becomes difficult, especially in winter.

“The project would greatly benefit the village if people can access water from the taps at home,” a farmer, Kezang said.

However, villagers might have to wait for another month or two because the project’s second phase is likely to get delayed.

According to Karma Dorji, three set of submersible pumps and 1,600m of transmission cable wires worth Nu 800,000 were completely damaged in a forest fire that occurred in Zobel last year.

“The contractor has completed all works on time but, because of the fire, we’ll now have to wait for the materials to reach the site,” he said.

He added that, before all the pumps are installed, they wouldn’t be able to conduct the water testing, which would be done by the consultant that surveyed and designed the WHO-funded project.

The consultants, DB Basnet and NB Khanal, based in Nepal, conducted the survey in 2010 and work began from 2012.

Contractor Sonam said the supplier in Siliguri, India has informed that the pumps, which cost almost Nu 200,000 each, would take more than a month to deliver, since they have to bring them from Punjab.

By Yangchen C Rinzin, Pemagatshel