Despite being allotted with budget several times to connect the chiwog with drinking water supply, Thridangbi residents of Mongar still face an acute water shortage.
The residents of more than 70 households have been fetching drinking water from places located few kilometres away from their homes. Some claim that they fetch water in vehicles.
Villagers claim that the government allotted Nu 6 million (M) to address the water shortage in 2013. The contract to connect drinking water to the village from Namling, 33kms away from Thridangbi, was awarded to Mangalam Construction.
They say the contractor brought the water to the village but they were not even informed that the water was connected to the chiwog. Unlike the usual water connections, there was no celebrations or inaugurations.
Only the tshogpas informed the villagers and they said they were happy.
Their happiness was, however, short-lived. They claim that they benefitted only for a month.
Villagers allege that the contractor did not lay the pipe two meters underground as mandated by the contract agreement. They also allege that the pipes, which got damaged within a month, were of poor quality.
A farmer, Neten Dolma, 44, said the water supply did not benefit them. “I fetch water in bolero from a source which is a kilometer away from home every week.”
Another farmer Aum Sonam, said without water at homes, it is difficult for them to maintain cleanliness. “It’s worse during dry season.”
The villagers say that the gewog administration provided financial support in 2014 and in 2015 to maintain the pipes but the village was not connected with water. The budget was used to lay and maintain the water pipes.
In 2017, the village was connected with water from Norbugang, 19 kms away from Thridangbi, using the same pipes. But the pipes were damaged because of road widening works.
Gewog officials refused to share details on the budget allocated.
Some villagers then lodged a complaint with the Anti-corruption Commission to investigate the newly constructed drinking water supply by Mangalam contractor and local government in 2014.
They claim that gewog officials and contractor misused the budget. ACC forwarded the letter to the dzongkhag administration, which then sent an investigation team.
The villagers say they have not heard from ACC so far and nor from the dzongkhag office.
Meanwhile, Thridangbi tshogpa Sangay Jamtsho said rolling boulders, falling trees and landslide damaged the pipes from Namling water source.
He also said that road widening works also added to the damages.
Saling gup Choney Dorji said the gewog has now identified a new water source in Norbugang.
He also said the gewog has allotted Nu 1.2M to maintain the Norbugang water pipes this year. “We are working on providing water.”
Tashi Phuntsho | Mongar