Water: In a small village called Gamung in upper Shali in Shumar gewog, winter means fetching water from a stream and searching for water sources.

The village has been facing an acute water shortage for years.

Villagers are frustrated with the water problem especially during the winter seasons. While the villagers have raised the issue several times no solution has been provided.

Villagers are currently walking more than half an hour to fetch water from a nearby stream. Some are even spending up to Nu 200 to buy a drum of water from those who own a vehicle or tractor and are able to transport water to the village.

The villagers have looked for other water sources but most are located uphill or on terrain not suitable for pipes. Even if they manage to find a suitable water source, with increasing demand, the water source dries up.

Tshering Choden, 26, said that they are able to manage only during the summer because of rainfall. “There are many problems if there is no proper basic water supply starting from hygiene to vegetable cultivation even though our village is known for its fertile soil,” she said. “We’ve to depend and manage from neighbouring villages by asking them to share water with us.”

Each household has a water tap in front constructed by the gewog administration but all are dry.

According to the villagers, shortage of water should have been solved with the construction of Khonmari water pumping project sometime in January this year. The Nu 100 million government funded project was to pump water from the perennial Khonmari stream. The project was expected to benefit about 10,000 people in Zobel and Shumar gewogs that face water shortages.

But many pointed out that the village is yet to receive water. According to the villagers whenever they raised the water shortage problem, the officials kept insisting that the project would solve the shortage.

“We don’t know which authority is at fault but the project hasn’t released water yet, except for one time they did for a few hours,” Posang, a farmer said. “We’re still waiting for water from that project because we really thought this would solve the issue.”

Posang added that the project was supposed to release water on an hourly basis. He said that a few villages are receiving water from the project but not Gamung.

The only hope villagers are left with is to wait for project to release water or either provide water pumps to bring water from one of the water sources they have identified.

Meanwhile, the dzongkhag’s junior engineer Karma Tenzin said there is no problem with the project and they have been releasing water to all beneficiaries on a priority basis. He said that no complaints have been received.

“Maybe some of the pipes are broken and the water has not reached but we definitely release water everyday on an hourly basis,” he said, adding that the matter would be investigated. He also said since Shumar is a large gewog it is difficult for water to reach to all the villages.

Yangchen C Rinzin |  Pemagatshel