Lhakpa Quendren

Gelephu – A 600-kilolitre water tank in Samdrupling of Gelephu thromde, which was its largest zinc-aluminium water reservoir, burst around 5.30am yesterday.

While the cause of the mishap is still unknown, thromde officials suspect that the use of thin rods to install the tank on the concrete foundation might have caused it to collapse. It was also found that the bolts that bound the sheets together were corroded, which likely further weakened the structure.

It was constructed in 2019 at Nu 3.4 million, and was the largest among the eight zinc-aluminium tanks in the thromde. The installation of the tank was completed in 20 days.

Gelephu Thrompon Tshering Norbu said that there were so many bolts inside the tank, and there were no technical issues observed until this incident.

“The temperature has been so high over the past few days. It could be because of the weather conditions as well,” he said, adding that the thromde administration is in touch with an India-based company that designed and installed the tank to conduct an investigation.

Since the defects liability period for the company is only a year, the thromde says that repairing or reinstalling the tank may not be possible. “Instead, alternative solutions will be explored to address the issue.”

Thromde officials said that the water will be supplied from the older tank with a capacity of 700 kilolitres at the same location, which serves as an alternative water reservoir.

The thromde administration deployed two JCBs to clear the site and a technical team to work on supplying water from the old tank. The two tanks supply water to about 187 households in parts of Samdrupling and Tashiling under the thromde.

Thrompon Tshering Norbu said that the thromde administration will ensure a consistent supply of water to these residents. “There would be some shortage for a few days, but we are looking for an alternative solution to supply.”

There were no casualties, and damage to nearby residents. However, the caretaker’s belongings were damaged as the water entered his house. Some of his areca nut and banana trees were also damaged by the tank burst.

Tshering Norbu said that the incident was a good lesson to enhance monitoring not only for the tanks in Gelephu but also for similar tanks in the country. “Given the potential risks associated with these structures, we will form a technical team to conduct thorough monitoring and inspection of all other tanks to avoid similar incidents.”

The installation of zinc-aluminum tanks was implemented as an urgent measure to tackle acute water shortage in the thromde.