Water: Samdrupjongkhar residents refutes their thromde’s claim that at least 85 percent of the population of the thromde has access to a reliable water supply that provides clean and safe drinking water.

Thrompon Karma Sherab Thobgyal while announcing the achievements of the thromde during the recent Thromde Tshogdu, said 85 percent of the set target had been achieved.

The achievement was a result of investments worth Nu 14 million made between 2013-2015, consisting of new boreholes, a new water supply system, and revival of wells through routine maintenance, among others.

The thrompon said they are confident 100 percent water supply coverage will be achieved by 2018 following the establishment of a new intake and water treatment plant under an Asian Development Bank (ADB) project. The plant is estimated to cost Nu 85 million.

The tender has already been floated and work is expected to begin this year and complete by 2018.

The plant that will be located near Pinchana (Char Kilo) is expected to supply the entire town with 2.5 million litres of water a day solving their water shortage problems.

Assistant engineer Mani Kumar Rizal said there is also Nu 12.5M allocated to construct a trunk line and distribution network of water pipes to each household. He added residents would not have to worry about water shortage by 2018.

However, many residents are skeptical of the achievements claimed by the thromde officials. Many said the 85 percent success rate may look impressive but in reality, the story on the ground is different.

Besides housing crunch, acute water shortage has always topped the issues raised by residents, especially in the summer where some households have to remain without water for days or even a week. Some face erratic supply for as long as a month.

Although connected with water pipes, many also said there was no water running in the pipes. Many hoteliers said this often affected their business forcing closures for as long as two days at times.

One of the residents and a private employee, Sonam Wangpo, pointed out that if 85 percent of the target had been achieved, then it is questionable because some residents still have to fetch water from wells or even the river.

“Every time it rains the situation becomes worse because the water supply stops completely,” he said. “Why is the water supply not sufficient to fulfill residents’ demand if so much has been achieved.”

Another resident, Tshering, said water supply during the winter is not a problem but during the summer, when water is most required, they receive water only for an hour a day and their complaints go unheard

“People have actually become used to water shortage now because it looks like the water supply will never improve,” a civil servant said. “If thromde claims every household is connected with water pipes then why not give them chance to utilize the pipes by supplying sufficient water.”

Many said they would consider it as an achievement if they get water for at least two hours every morning, afternoon and evening. A few pointed out that the achievement could be applied only to Dewathang where households have sufficient water supply but not to the Samdrupjongkhar core area.

Meanwhile, the thrompon said that the achievement is based on the water related activities like water pipes connected to each household. He also said that they ensure that people get water for at least four hours a day.

He said because residents do not get water for 24 hours, they complain.

The thrompon admitted there is erratic water supply, but he attributed this to an old water supply tank and pipes that often get damaged requiring significant time to repair.

“Sometimes, it also depends on tenants or house owners because they do not have water reservoirs to store water,” he said. “Either their water pumps are not working or in some households people waste water through leakage.”

He said the problem would be solved once the ADB project materializes. He added that work is already underway to construct an additional borehole and one new reservoir tank.

“We’re doing everything possible to solve the water problem. But the situation has definitely improved and is better compared to how it was for past 40 years,” the thrompon said.

Yangchen C Rinzin,  Samdrupjongkhar