With the water canal, which runs through the Samdrupjongkhar town left uncovered, residents are raising concerns on safety issues.

Jeewan, a taxi driver, said his daughter who was playing with her friends almost drowned two years ago.

He said although the water canal that runs through the town benefits the people of Daranga and other places in Assam, India,    it’s also important to maintain safety measures for the benefit of people.

“I get traumatised when I recollect that incident and I still don’t let my kids go near it,” he said. “We don’t know who is responsible to carry out the safety measures of the channel.”

Residents said that a boy drowned in the canal and died few years ago while recently, a man had also drowned and taken to hospital. “The canal is not only risky to children but also to the residents in the town,” a resident said. “We didn’t see the concerned authorities coming up with the safety measure despite several incidents. It’s more risky during summer when the volume of the water increases and the channel is left uncovered.”

Thrompon Karma Sherab Thobgyal said the canal was constructed in the 1970s for irrigation for the people living in Daranga and other villages on mutual understanding, as there was no source for irrigation those days.

He said the canal was left without the cover, as there were no infrastructure developments in Samdrupjongkhar those days but agreed that now with development activities taking place, it’s risky for the residents.

The thrompon said that a child nearly got drowned before few years ago and the water spills over during summer causing sanitation issues in town. “We talked with the counterparts in Daranga and they informed us they will reconstruct the canal as it benefits people across the border but nothing has been done until now,” he said.

He said the thromde could not take up the reconstruction of the canal and forwarded it to the dzongkhag administration, as there are bilateral issues.  He said the dzongkhag administration has also forwarded it to the central government and is waiting for a response.

“We have included it in the flagship programme for budget and reconstruct the canal with a cover if the government approves the budget,” the thrompon said.

Kelzang Wangchuk  | Samdrupjongkhar