It is time for paddy transplantation in Dorokha, Samtse. About 20 men and women of Namchu village bear the mid-day sun and work for a neighbour’s transplantation.

The villagers depend on Chukhey kholcha (stream) for the transplantation.

Farmers say about 60 households use the Chukhey stream for paddy cultivation every year.

Many farmers have not started transplanting in Dorokha. 

Dawa, 37, showed her paddy fields and said she was waiting for the water. “We have to wait for the rain.”

She said sometimes, people in the locality even miss the transplantation season by days. 

Dorokha gup, Padam Bahadur Rai, said people rely on local and seasonal irrigation canals in Dorokha. 

He said four villages such as Damphuchen, Dogar, Upper Somlachen, and Lower Somlachen have proper irrigation canals.

“Unavailability of water sources is the problem,” Dorokha gup said, explaining the source is about 10kms away. “There is no proposal for new irrigation canals in the 12th Plan.”

The gup, however, said the existing ones would be maintained.

Farmers in Dumtey gewog also use the seasonal and local irrigation sources, the gewog gup Damber Singh Rai said. 

He said the gewog office had proposed for an irrigation canal in the 11th Plan but it was not approved. “People are still expecting it. It would benefit 200 households.”

He said an irrigation canal would help in both paddy cultivation and growing winter vegetables.

The assistant dzongkhag agriculture officer (ADAO), Kinzang Chophel, said Samtse has constructed 18 new irrigation canals in its 15 gewogs in the 11th plan. It covered about 64.4km.

“We did not have a target,” he said. “This is because many irrigation projects were handled directly by the department.”

ADAO Kinzang Chophel also said Samtse covered 54.6km in the maintenance of 19 existing irrigation canals. 

Drinking water

 Sanglung-Sengteng chiwog in Dorokha is the only area with the water problem, gup Padam Bahadur Rai said. “Water source dry up in the winter.”

The gup said Singey village also has the water problem, as the village is located at a higher elevation, while the water source is below the village. 

The gup said only a pumping system would help provide water in this village.

“In other areas, there is no drinking water problem,” he said.

In Dumtey, about 60 households share water from existing taps, gup Damber Singh Rai said.

“These are new houses constructed after they received their share of family lands,” he said. “We are managing at the moment and there is not much problem.”

Meanwhile, records maintained by the dzongkhag show 98 percent coverage in drinking water in rural areas. 

An engineer with the dzongkhag, Damcho, said there is not much problem in drinking water. “But management is a problem, as people do not use properly.”

He said they identify places where there is a requirement for repairs and connectivity every year and support with the gewog’s budget. 

In Samtse town, the municipal in-charge and engineer, Tenzin Dakpa said there is 100 percent coverage. “However, continuous supply is not there from the town’s water treatment.”

“We supply three times a day,” the in-charge said. “We supply three hours each time.”

Meanwhile, some buildings supply water continuously. They install tanks and supply in their buildings, municipal in-charge said.

A town resident said that there is no drinking water problem. “Three times a day is enough. Even hotels are able to manage with this current supply.”

Rajesh Rai | Dorokha