Choki Wangmo | Tsirang

With the inauguration of a flagship water project in Patshaling gewog in Tsirang yesterday, 48 households in three villages are hopeful that their long drinking and irrigation water woes will be solved for good.

Most of the residents in these villages depend on vegetables and cardamom, the cultivation of which have been hampered by water shortage.

Currently, the farmers in Tsakaling use drawn water from a stream, Kharay Khola, through pipes for drinking and irrigation.

Kinzang Namgyel from Tsakaling said that he has bought water pipes worth Nu 38,000 since 2016 to draw water from the source for drinking and irrigation. He grows vegetables and cardamom on five acres.

According to him, the challenges due to water shortages in his village date back to 2012.

A villager, Rinchen Tshering from Patshaling Maed said that since his mandarin yield was affected by a disease, he has cultivated cardamom on his three-acre plot of land. “Water shortages worsen during winter months,” he said, adding that people did not even have sufficient drinking water.

He said that people faced water shortages after the road construction started in the villages. “Water sources have started to gradually dry up.”

Villagers allege that in the past, they were provided with water tanks, but due to poor planning and monitoring, it was a failure.

“As the water source was located in a risky area with a constant threat from elephants, we couldn’t clean the water tanks,” Kinzang Namgyel said.

Two years ago, a heavy monsoon washed away the water source, further worsening the condition.

He said that with the project, his family will have sufficient water for drinking and irrigation.

Currently, he takes turns with his wife to monitor and water the fields every two hours, even at night. “It is tedious.”

Chimi Dema from Tsakaling said that the burden from water shortage has been heavy on women and children. “His Majesty has recognised our challenges and has gifted us this project. I am hopeful for the future.”

She fetches water from a spring near her house which remains dry for almost eight months. “When it dries up, I have to fetch water from other areas for household use.”

The second of its kind in the dzongkhag, the water project will be built at a cost of Nu 5.05 million. The project will be carried out by 60 deployed desuups. It is expected to be completed within the next four months.