As to who’s to blame, villagers and the supplier point fingers at each another

Dispute: Residents of Tashithang and Chubathang in Umling gewog, Sarpang have appealed to the gewog office, saying they won’t accept the pipes supplied to their village for drinking water supply.

The villagers said 17 rolls of pipes in the first supply were delivered broken.  They were returned to the supplier.

“We can’t trust the quality of pipes they supplied, and they replaced the broken ones, but again four bundles were found broken,” villagers said.

Som Kumar Sherpa from Sarpang had supplied the pipes in October last year.  He said they kept a marginal profit and supplied certified quality pipes to the village.

“After we received the complaint, we replaced them,” he said. “The pipes broke because the people weren’t taking care of them.”

The supplier said the pipes, worth about Nu 300,000, are for the benefit of public use, and they should have kept the pipes properly.

Umling gup Ugyen Norbu said he received an appeal letter from the public, saying they couldn’t trust the pipes as they had broken twice even before they were connected. “I’ve informed the supplier that the people have refused to use the pipes.”

Tashithang tshogpa Lungten Dorji said that the water pipes should last for at least 10 years.

“But I don’t think the supplied pipes can last even a year, and we’re more concerned about the quality, because we can’t afford to maintain it time and again,” he said.

The people of Tashithang and Chubarthang don’t have drinking water supply at home, and fetch water from Singchu river, about 20 minutes walk from Chubarthang village.

A farmer, Leki Drugyal, said the government was always asking people to focus on agriculture, but with no water, there was little they can do.

“Without enough drinking water, how are we going to focus on agriculture works, which need abundant water supply?” he said.

He said they own a house and some land in upper Tashithang, but since they don’t have drinking water there, he has left his land fallow and his home vacant.

The drinking water supply work started on September 20 last year, with the community readying the ground for almost a month.  For the water supply, the communities received Nu 270,000 from the government and Nu 200,000 from the gewog development fund.  The water supply would benefit 14 households in Umling gewog.

Meanwhile, the supplier Som Kumar said that, if the community submitted in writing that they didn’t want the pipes, then he would collect the pipes. “But we can’t replace it anymore,” he said.

By Yeshey Dema, Umling