Phurpa Lhamo | Punakha

Residents of Dzomi gewog in Punakha, who are facing acute drinking water shortage, are waiting for the water project in the locality to complete.

Works to bring water to the villages in the gewog from Pangtsegogo in Shengana began more than a year ago.

According to Dzomi gup Tshechu, the initial plan was to bring water from Garachu in Shengana for Tana-Yuesakha and Dzomi-Mendegang chiwogs.

He, however, said that upon the recommendation from Foreign Minister Dr Tandi Dorji, who is the Member of Parliament from Lingmukha-Toedwang constituency, the gewog administration decided to seek a different source, which would benefit three chiwogs that have severe drinking water issue.

Gup Tshechu added that the current source would benefit more than 170 households of Tana-Yuesakha, Yangchekha-Bjimthang, Dzomi-Mendegang chiwogs and a few households of Lungkha-Khelikha chiwog.

For the initial water plan, Nu 2 million (M) was allocated in the 2018-2019 fiscal year.

Gewog mangmi, Dawa Tashi, said that 63mm pipes were also procured to bring water to the two chiwogs.

He said that work had not begun but materials were procured for the plan. “With the change of source, we had to use 90mm pipes. We distributed the 63mm pipes to the villagers, where the larger pipes weren’t required.”

In the 2019-2020 fiscal year, Nu 9.6M was allocated to bring water for the four chiwogs. “But we haven’t spent all the budget and we still have some remaining budget, which would be used to construct road,” mangmi Dawa Tashi said.

Today, only a small portion of work remains. Majority work of laying pipes and construction of tanks are complete.

According to the mangmi, it took more than a year, as some pipes had to be kept in Thimphu for 90 days. “Less than 1km of work is left. We have completed other works,” mangmi Dawa Tashi said.

Meanwhile, in the villages, taps are dry.

With unclean and erratic drinking water, more than 30 households in Bjimthang village face major issues.

According to a resident, Daw Gyeltshen, they used drinking water, which had irrigation water flowed into it during monsoon.

He added that villagers in the chiwog complained of water-borne diseases like rashes and coughing.

Another villager, Namgay Dem, who has a 10-month-old baby, said she washed her baby’s clothes with irrigation water. “Right now, we take water from a small pond nearby. There are insects and germs in the pond but we have to use it.”

Another seven households also fetch water from a nearby pond, which has been outgrown with weeds and insects.

Villagers in Bjimthang have sought numerous sources in the past.

Daw Gyeltshen said efforts were made to bring water from Chisigang, Tongzhina, Henchulumba and Shengana. “But when the work is done, the water doesn’t reach here or isn’t enough. Right now we use water from Henchulumba, which is also very small.”

Another villager, Yeshi Samten, said villagers had done woola to bring water to the village. “It has been several years but we still don’t have water.”

The villagers blame the issue on climate change. “The water sources are just drying up,” Daw Gyeltshen said.

Edited by Tashi Dema