Perennially parched Pam

The village’s decade long wait for its thirst to be quenched looks likely to go on 

Water: After villagers of Pam waited for almost a decade for a new water source at Bamridrang in Trashigang, a recent survey carried out by the dzongkhag found the proposed site to be not feasible.

Economic affairs minister, Norbu Wangchuk, had pledged that a new water source would be identified to ease the water woes in Pam.  During his constituency visit last year, lyonpo called for a survey to be carried out at Bamridrang.

However, given the difficult terrain, the survey team could not reach the proposed site.

Dzongkhag engineer, Chador Phuntsho, said the identified location was not found feasible because the river gets flooded every summer, and that there was no tapping point either.  He said that the alignment of pipes would also not have been possible.

“If we use galvanised iron (GI) pipes, the rocky cliff would pose problems,“ he said. “And if we use high density polythene (HDP) pipes, it would be difficult to bury the pipes on a rocky terrain. If we don’t bury them, forest fire and wild animals would certainly cause damages.”

Moreover, he added that carrying out maintenance works would also have become difficult.  The only option left is to identify a source at Rangshikhar village.

Since Rangshikhar villagers also use the source to tap irrigation water and drinking water, apart from supplying drinking water to Trashigang (Mithidrang) town, Chador Phuntsho said that proper consultation with the villagers should be taken to avoid conflicts in future.

“So I think a community clearance from Rangshikhar villagers should be availed before we carry out the survey,” he said.

Samkhar gup, Sonam Dorji, said there shouldn’t be any objection from Rangshikhar villagers, given that the new source is located at a good distance from the existing sources.

“The gewog has written to the dzongkhag and we should be able to survey the area soon,” he said.

Currently, Pam shares its water source with Rangshikhar.  However, as winter sets in, the water is only enough to cater to Rangshikhar and upper Pam.

Last year, the gewog procured pipes worth Nu 1.5M (million) to tap water from another source in Pam, which started drying up soon after.  To address water shortage, some villagers have directly connected pipes to nearby springs.

“To irrigate our fields in winter, we follow a routine where every household gets water supply,” Dupthop, a villager said.

In the adjacent village of Kheri, farmers have hung up their spades, and no longer farm during winters because of water shortage.

Earlier, Pam primary school also had to share water from the same source at Rangshikhar.  With the school seeing erratic water supply and taps running dry for months, the school proposed for a separate water source.

“With the help of the dzongkhag, a separate source was constructed for our school, but the problem of water shortage still exists,” a teacher said. “Even with the new source, we didn’t have water supply for about three months last year.”

A villager, Namgay, said that the issue of water scarcity has been prevalent for almost a decade now. “The former government had also promised a new water source for Pam, but we’re yet to get one,” he said.

By Tshering Wangdi, Trashigang

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