Tshering Namgyal | Mongar

Water pipes for Mongar town that connects to the source at Yagpogang are an eyesore for residents of Kideykhar town in Mongar, who suffer from acute water shortage.

Making the matter worse, drinking water connection to two villages of Phosorong and Pongchula also pass through the town.

Kideykhar town residents say they are just a kilometre away from the water source but are struggling without water for a decade now.

A few years ago, two plot owners in the satellite town received water from the village above through rural water supply scheme (RWSS) after paying Nu 13,000 each to the villagers in lieu of labour contribution.

Two of them were the last beneficiaries of the RWSS and they have been sharing from a single pipeline. The other 12 plot owners shared water from two of them in the absence of a dedicated drinking water connection.

Residents say situation worsened five years ago after the town expanded in terms of both size and population. The lower secondary school located just below the town was upgraded to a central school drawing a larger number of staff who stayed in the town. Similarly, the employees of Agriculture Research Development Centre in Wengkhar and civil servants of regional offices also chose the town due to calm atmosphere and cheaper rent comparing to Mongar town, which is just five kilometres away.

Residents tried to resolve the water issue themselves a year ago. After collecting money, they bought a tank with a storage capacity of 2000 litres paying around Nu 25,000 and connected the main pipeline to it. Individual pipes were connected to it but it didn’t serve the purpose.

Town residents said water from the main pipe is too small to fill just the base of the tank in few days and it was not sufficient for two to three households. Desperate houseowners then disconnected others’ pipe.

Since four months ago, they have been using overflow water from the reservoir tank belonging to the nearby Bhutan Power Corporation substation after requesting. It solved the problem temporarily.

“We are using the overflow water especially in the night when BPC officials are not using after storing in our tank and that has subsided the problem a little bit but how long? It’s never secure,” a resident said.

A shopkeeper, Dorji Tshering, said drops of water is stored in his 200-litre barrel.

A house owner, Sonam, said residents have been managing by ferrying in barrels and jerrycans in DCM truck and bolero. They also stored rainwater during monsoon until they got a sharing source. 

“Although we are managing, it is not enough because it’s just an overflow and shared by many households,” he said. “Even tenants living in my house who felt the rent was cheaper left because of the water problem.”

Sonam said the tenants felt awkward to carry their dish and clothes in front of other houses to wash from the water stored in the barrel every day.

Town tshogpa, Yeshi Wangzom said they approached the dzongkhag administration and municipality with a written request several times. “We have been told the issue would be addressed. We are hoping it would be resolved soon.”

Mongar gup Tenzin Wangchuk said water is a serious issue at Kideykhar town and residents came to the gewog with application thrice, which were forwarded to dzongkhag as the town falls under the municipality.

“The town residents have been sharing water with the villagers until recently but it has become even scarce for the rural households due to expansion and sharing,” he said.

However, the issue is likely to addressed soon once the feeder tank is expanded under the water flagship programme.

Mongar dzongkhag municipal engineer, Ram Bahadur Darjee, said works and human settlement ministry has approved Nu 5 million (M) under the programme of which 3M would be released soon.

He said the fund would be used to construct a 200 cubic metre tank with the storage capacity of 200,000 litres at the existing ferro concrete reservoir (FCR) area above the rural settlement where a small tank with 30 cubic metre exists.

He said the ministry has indicated of releasing the budget within this week or next week and work would start within a month and half after tendering it.

Ram Bahadur Darjee said the main crisis also rests with the Kideykhar central school, which has been sustaining on a small private source and would be covered under the same scheme. “The construction of the tank will take just about months.”