Water: For the last three years, almost half of the 250 water taps built in Rizor chiwog in Udzorong, Trashigang have been running dry.

The taps were built in 2008 through the rural water supply scheme.  Water supply to Udzorong was disrupted, when pipes connected to the source at Namtaladrang had to be removed in 2012 to carry out widening works for Trashigang-Samdrupjongkhar highway.  With the work still in progress, the water pipes are yet to be restored.

“We managed to supply water to upper Rizor areas, connecting high density polythene pipes to the source, but the lower parts are still without any proper water supply,” Udzorong gup, Tenzin Tshewang, said.

Grappling with water shortage, villagers of lower Rizor have connected private polythene pipes to a small stream at Dotphu village.  However, it didn’t address the water shortage.

“The water from the stream is barely enough for every household,” a villager Tashi Tenzin said. “To get more water, villagers have resorted to chopping each others’ water pipes.”

Shortage of water has also led to many villagers growing less vegetables and crops.  With Udzorong lower secondary school now a central school, the agriculture department is urging farmers to form a vegetable cooperative to supply vegetables to the school.

“We want to form a cooperative, but how do we grow vegetables when we don’t even have enough drinking water?” another villager, Dawa, said.

However, the gewog has identified two water sources at Tokchiri and are in the process of constructing tanks to address the water shortage in lower Rizor.

“We’ve decided to use the gewog budget to carry out the works and the new water sources would cater to about 70 households,” the gup said. “We expect the work to complete in another two months.”

Rizor tshogpa, Jigmi, said that some of the water tap stands might have to be constructed again.

“Without any water for so long, taps are damaged and could be defunct,” he said. “Some taps never had any water supply since the day they were put in place.”

According to the rural water supply inventory 2014, about 13,732 rural households are facing drinking water problems.  Through the RWSS, 61,204 tap stands were put in place.

But only 57,739 tap stands were found in good condition and the remaining 4,746 tap stands totally defunct.  About 6,448 tap stands that were in good condition do not have running water.

Meanwhile, the gewog is also worried about water pipes getting damaged again when the department of roads (DoR) starts improving and blacktopping the 27km gewog centre road.

“To avoid disruption of water supply, we’ve decided to write to the DoR,” gewog mangmi Tshering Tashi said. “The gewog can’t afford another water crisis.”

By Tshering Wangdi, Trashigang