Phurpa Lhamo | Wangdue

For the past three days, residents of Bajo have been carrying jerry cans walking to the nearest water source to bring drinking water home.

Some have travelled to Menchuna, others to Rinchengang, some to Rabuna, and a majority to the nearest drupchu above Bajo town. Some had to make do with mineral water.

Bajo’s over 12,000 people didn’t get water on the evening of June 19. On June 21, they were supplied water for a short time. On June 22, there was no water until late evening.

A resident of Bajo said that drupchu was crowded. “For cooking we have to go to get water. We get water right now but it isn’t drinkable.”

A bar owner said: “Others are taking their cars and going to fetch water. I had to take a taxi to Rabuna to bring water.”

Wangdue’s Municipal Engineer, Sangay Lhamo, said that due to heavy rains, the water canals were filled with sand and blocked. Around 13 municipal staff also went to clear the sand out of the channel on Sunday (June 20), she added. “It took the staff the whole day to clean it.”

The cleared canal was blocked again on June 21. Although there are nets to filter twigs and leaves, when the stream overflows, sands fill the canal.

A Bajo resident, Kuengaa Dorji, said that the water crisis continued in Bajo even after the installation of bore water near taxi parking. “Residents have to pump water in their building.”

Murky water in taps of Bajo town is a usual sight during monsoon. A water filter was installed in 2012 to provide clean water to residents.

Sangay Lhamo said that turbidity at the current water source was really high. 

Dzongkhag has also been proposing for a new water source since 2015.

 The current water source for Bajo residents comes from Baechhu, which flows from Baelangdra. During monsoon, water from the road and from irrigation fields in Kazhi gewog flows into Baechhu.

As the water flows downstream, an open canal diverts water from Baechhu for the residents.

The municipal has identified a water source in Wakhashong, located around 25km away from Bajo. Designs and clearance work are under process.

Edited by Jigme Wangchuk