Kelzang Wangchuk | Samdrupjongkhar

Residents of Khetshang town in Trashiyangtse have been grappling with an acute drinking water shortage for the past three weeks.

While many are fetching water in their vehicles, those without vehicles are spending hours every day walking to a nearby pond and queuing to fetch water.

Some residents are storing rainwater.

A businessman, Sangay Choida, said they had been facing drinking water shortage as the water is connected from an irrigation canal and it has become dirty.

He said the water is untreated and they also find animals in the irrigation canal. “I don’t understand how officials could supply drinking water from an irrigation canal.”

The town representative, Karma Lhamo, said they are facing acute drinking water shortage today as the recent rain had washed away the source. “We have never faced water problems before.”

She said since most of the residents are carrying out construction works in the town, works are affected without water. “Some residents are continuing the construction carrying water from Tshergom river.”

Karma Lhamo said they have reported the matter to the dzongkhag administration and officials informed that they would carry out maintenance work soon. “But nothing has been done so far.”

Residents said drinking water for Khetshang town has been connected from an irrigation canal near Lengkhar and Chakidemi villages in Khamdang gewog. “We have been drinking dirty water so far.”

They said the water treatment plant (WTP) at Zangpozor in Khamdang gewog is of no use because no water treatment is done and a reservoir remains without a lid. “It’s a wastage of state funds.”

Karma Lhamo said they have also written to the dzongkhag administration regarding the WTP and drinking water being connected from an irrigation canal. “But there is no response from the dzongkhag.”

Meanwhile, the dzongkhag municipal in-charge, Bali Raj Rai, said since the landslide had washed away the source, they are carrying out maintenance work. “We requested Kholongchu project’s tankers to supply water.”

He said since 80 percent of the maintenance work has been completed, water would be connected within a few days. “We are trying our best to address the problem at the earliest.”

He agreed that the drinking water is connected to an irrigation canal, but it is connected from the source at Buyang. “Water is clean because there are no settlements and animals at the source.”

According to Bali Raj Rai, they cannot treat water every day, but they treat it sometimes. “Residents at Khetshang town are not connected to water metre. We supply water free from the WTP at the moment.”

He said they would supply treated water from the WTP every day once the residents are connected to the water metre after setting up the office and appointing a caretaker.