It is hot these days. And many feel that the month that just went by was the hottest in many years.
It was indeed. Although no comparisons were made to see if June was the hottest all over the country, at least those who have been to the mountains have evidence. The glaciers are melting and it caused a glacial surge.
Hourly temperature in June at Thorthomi was the highest, above 16 and 17 degree Celsius this year.
Consistent rise in temperature in the months of April, May and June led to the melting of ice in Throthomi lake. A disaster was prevented because the subsidiary lake breached. It was a blessing in disguise, as it helped drain out excessive meltwater.
Elsewhere, June is recorded as the hottest month in many years in the northern hemisphere. Europe is experiencing a heat wave. Scientists found that average temperature in Europe for June this year was higher than any other June on record. Average temperature in June was more than 2 C above normal.
If there is a heat wave, there is no rain. The two are related. Rains help bring down temperature. If the risk of melting glaciers is mitigated by natural draining out of meltwater, farmers in Bhutan are suffering from the heat wave and lack of rain.
Prosperous dzongkhags like Paro had no problem. They have good irrigation infrastructure. But farmers in other dzongkhags are worried. There is no rain and the season for paddy transplantation is running out. Rice is the staple food and when transplantation is delayed, the yield is affected.
It is predicted that shortage of water will be the cause of conflict in the near future. At the local level, it is already happening. A police case had been registered in Punakha when two farmers arguing over water turned ugly. At the time of writing this article, farmers in Barp gewog have gathered at the gup’s office to settle a dispute. A group diverted all the water to their fields, other opposed and the conflict escalated.
In the capital city, businesses have resorted to buying water. Others are helpless and fetch their own. Water is an issue. It is dominating discussions and gossip, both online and offline. Everybody is blaming the government, local and central.
What is lacking is convincing solutions. There are plans, some grand. But it is taking time. Water, a basic necessity should deserve all the priority. It can be done and done fast. A member of parliament in Paro spent his own money to keep his promise. Farmers are happy although his party was on the losing side. It shows that there is a way if there is a will.
Bhutan may be preparing to graduate from least developed country status, but a huge population still depends on agriculture. Without water, agriculture is impossible. Our priorities should be relooked into.
The interventions should not happen when all the fields are left fallow or farmers are working at construction sites in the towns.