Phurpa Lhamo | Punakha

Lack of drinking water has forced over 40 households in Dochu-Ritsa chiwog in Punakha to fetch water from the Mochhu and the irrigation water source flowing from Nyakhulum.

Drinking water source for Dochu-Ritsa is located around 2km away from the village at Lanukha in Talo gewog.

According Dochu-Ritsa Tshogpa Dawa Gyeltshen, because the water source is small, water is stored in a tank near the source. “There are three more smaller tanks near the village but only one could be filled.’

Because water  supply is scarce at the source, the households get water once every three days.

“When the water is released, we have to store water in every cans possible. After we receive water for a day, we won’t receive water for another two or three days,” Lhakha Dem, 44, said.

When the farmers run short of water, they resort to the nearby Mochhu and the irrigation water flowing from Nyakhulum.

A resident of Dochu-Ritsa, Deki, said that earlier the water from Nyakhulum was also used for drinking purposes.

Because the water was contaminated, as there were major settlements near and along the water, people in Dochu-Ritsa sought a different source. “But without water, we drink from the irrigation water source and the river. It isn’t clean but we have to resort to it.”

There are no treatment plants at the current water source.

Apart from drying water source, the people in the chiwog also fear the current water has been contaminated.

Tshogpa Dawa Gyeltshen said that the recent construction of gewog centre road towards Lunakha in Talo gewog had also forced drainage water to flow into their drinking water source. “During rainy season, the water from the drains along the road flows to the source. There is nothing we can do.”

Every year, two individuals are selected to clean the water tanks and the source twice every week.

The issue was also raised during the gewog tshogdu.

According to Guma Gup Ugyen Khandu, of five chiwogs in Guma, three chiwogs had major drinking water shortage.

He added as part of the water flagship programme, sources from Senchula in Kabisa gewog and Baegana in Toebisa gewog were studied.

“We hope work can begin in 2021 to solve the water shortage issue.”