It’s been more than a month since residents of Jomotshangkha town in Samdrupjongkhar are struggling with an acute shortage of drinking water.

There are about 2,000 residents in Jomotshangkha. One of the residents, Needrup Dorji, said that although they faced water problems frequently, it has worsened this time since they did not have water for more than a month.

He said that residents, who own vehicle fetch water from the nearby rivers but it’s difficult for those who don’t have transportation.

A civil servant said he fetches water from a pond below the basic health unit (BHU) but people dump waste near the pond. “We have no other choice but to drink the dirty water,” he said.

Another resident, Jangchub, said that due to water shortage, it is impossible to carry out daily chores at home and maintain cleanliness. “We cannot prepare meals, wash clothes or clean houses.”

Jomotshangkha drungpa, Lamdra Wangdi, said the town has two water sources, one at Gelongkhar and the other at Chukarpo but both sources are seasonal. “Water gets dirty in summer and it dries up in winter.”

He said that swollen rivers wash away the sources in summer. Lamdra Wangdi also said that because of unreliable water sources, the spring water near the town is stored in tanks and distributed to the residents currently.

However, residents claim that they hardly get the water that is supplied from the spring.

According to the drungpa, the drungkhag administration renovated the reservoir in 2015 and 2016 but landslides washed it away recently.

He said they have built an intake tank at Chukarpo but it was also washed.

“Since there is no alternative source, we are trying to renovate the existing ones with the Nu 5 million budget we have for this fiscal year.”

Lamdra Wangdi said they also have plans to pump water from Jomori and store it. “But we don’t have the expertise to do it.”

He said that the drungkhag has requested works and human settlement ministry to carry out a survey and estimation works. “We are waiting for this.”

Kelzang Wangchuk | Jomotshangkha