Choki Wangmo | Sarpang

Wastewater from the Jigmeling industrial park in Sarpang drained into the settlement below poses flood risk to more than 80 households in the chiwog.

Without interventions, residents said that the problems have worsened in recent years as the water floods homes and washes away farm roads and land during the monsoon.

Residents have forwarded the issue to the gewog administration. It was also discussed in the recent Sarpang dzongkhag tshogdu (DT).

Dekiling mangmi Leki Gyeltshen said that water from the industrial area drained into hume pipes overflowed into the village.  It wreaked havoc in Dekiling. “It endangers our livelihood. We need immediate interventions,” he said.

In the past, although the problems persisted for a decade, it was not a threat as the water seeped into the forest and thickets. However, to ward away wild animals, villagers had to clear the bushes.

A Jigmeling resident, Penjor, said that in the past, residents could adjust but the problems have intensified recently. 

“If it rains for three hours, my land would be washed away. The water flow increases and can wash away young children even,” he said.

The drain water forms two streams and flows through more than three acres of his dryland. He lives 800 metres away from the industrial area.

Recently, the excess drain water during a rainy day flooded Sangay Wangmo’s  automobile workshop. “The threats are increasing each monsoon. It doesn’t rain but pours. We are at the risk of getting washed away,” she said, adding that the residents had submitted an application to the gewog administration about the issue.

She said that earlier the industrial area’s wastewater was supposed to be drained into Burkhola, located 2km away from the Park area but the plan did not materialise. “There is a need for a proper drainage system,” she said.

“My home was flooded and a landslide washed away part of my land,” said a resident, Chochong Wangmo.

We cannot use the road during the monsoon, she said, adding that lives in the village have become more challenging for farmers. “We have to fight man-made disasters and wild animals. Farming is an arduous job.”

Jigmeling tshogpa Sonam Norbu said that the risks might be grave in the future if there were no interventions. There are more than 100 households in Jigmeling.

An official from the Jigmeling industrial park said that the wastewater from the park was supposed to be drained to Burkhola after constructing a proper drainage system along the Gelephu-Sarpang highway. “But we couldn’t get clearance from the Department of Roads (DoR) as there are plans to expand the highway in the future.”

The DT last time instructed the dzongkhag and gewog administrations, DoR, and the industrial park to discuss the way forward. The discussion is yet to start.

The settlement is below the industrial area. The park is 90 percent complete.