Neten Dorji | Wamrong

Residents of Wamrong have been struggling with an increasing shortage of drinking water for more than three years now without any possible solution in sight.

Hoteliers are ferrying water in their vehicles while house owners ferry water for those who don’t have cars.

“It has been more than nine months since we didn’t get enough water,” said a resident, Jigme. He said that in the past they were provided water two times a day, these days they don’t get even once a day. “It is insufficient for those who are running restaurants.”

With the increasing number of population in the area, said a civil servant, the amount of water they get is not sufficient. “When we complain to the landlord, they told us that there is no water at the source.” He said that sometimes the landlord shared his share of water.  “We need more water to maintain hygiene and sanitation,” he said.

Another restaurant owner, Motilal Biswa said water shortage has affected his business. “We can’t do anything without water,” he said. “The dishes pile up and the customers keep coming.”

He said that BAFRA officials could impose fine since they have to maintain hygiene. Without a water source nearby, he is forced to travel more than five kilometres to fetch water.

More than eight hoteliers and about 25 shopkeepers in Wamrong have been facing continued water shortage since there is only one source at Kharungla. Four villages Wungbugang, Serthang, Tshangphu and Tokaphu also draw their drinking water from the source.

A house owner, Drubthob Wangmo said that tenants complain about water shortage almost every day. “Tenants would leave soon if the problem continues.” Without water at home, it is difficult for them to do household chores, she said. “It is worse during monsoon season.”

Residents and hoteliers claim that acute water shortage has been raised after two pipelines tapped water for Mukuzor Goenpa and Kospu village above their water source, which is about 20 kilometre from Wamrong. “We didn’t have a water problem in the past. It started after two pipelines installed above our water source,” said one of the residents.

Another resident said that everyone has the right to use water being state resource but overtaking sources is illegal. “It is not that we don’t want to share, but they should take from below our water source.”

Town Tshogpa, Karchung said that every day he gets at least two complaints from shopkeepers and residents. “With climate change and an increasing number of inhabitants in the area,” he said, this could be a factor that contributes to the shortage. “This year was worst of them all,” he added.

Meanwhile, Wamrong Drungpa, Sangay Phuntsho said that climate change, pipelines destroyed by wild animals, and the increasing number of residents are the reasons for insufficient water. “In Wamrong, we need either big water sources or a bigger project to resolve the present water problem.”

The water source is about 20 kilometres away from Wamrong town, and he said frequent break down happened during monsoon in the pipeline passing over rugged terrain.

The drungpa also said that Wamrong not being a thromde, and drungkhag doesn’t get budgetary support from the government to provide amenities. “It is not that drungkhag doesn’t support fulfiling public needs. We built a new intake water tank at the water source and provided assistance to restore the pipes which were damaged during monsoon last year.”

He said the public has to take some initiative while the government supports them.