Acres of paddy fields in Pam, Trashigang, have been left fallow this year.  

Owing to water shortage, the village experienced a decreasing trend in paddy cultivation in the village over the years with just about four households cultivating last year. This year the practice has stopped altogether. 

Wild animals such as wild boars and porcupines and rats further deterred the farmers from growing paddy.     

A villager, Baki, said her family had to stop paddy cultivation since the irrigation water sources dried up. 

Today, the family uses the little water from the field for drinking. 

Besides irrigation, the village has been facing an acute drinking water shortage for more than seven years now.  

“There are water taps installed outside every household but there is no water coming out from it,” a resident, Ugyen Tashi, said. 

The only water source located few kilometers above the village was first constructed in the late 1980s, according to gewog officials. The source was identified to cater to the needs of about 30 households then. 

There are about 60 households in Pam. 

The village tshogpa, Ghallay Wangchuk, said that with increasing households and the source drying up, there is not enough drinking water in the village. “The current requirement of water is for about 80 households in the village.” 

While rainwater in summer partly substitutes for the scarce irrigation water supply, it is difficult in the villages. 

The village is divided into upper Tapting and lower Lamphrang areas and they share water from the lone source.

There are disputes among the villagers for not releasing the water by the two sides. 

“Without enough drinking water, we have to be concerned about our crops and cattle,” said Chimi Wangmo, a farmer from Tapting. “It gets worse when people from Lamphrang accuses us of not releasing the water.”

The 42-year-old said people think they keep their taps open throughout the day, which is not the case. “As soon as our work is completed, we make sure that the taps are close so that the water can flow downwards.” 

Arguments intensify in the months of November and early December when farmers are engaged in growing potatoes. “Our potatoes require constant water supply and when the people above don’t release the water, we land up arguing,” said Baki. “We cannot even stay quiet, as potatoes are the main source of income for us.” 

The 56-year-old said that despite several requests and arguments, no improvements were observed in the last few years. “We took a loan to purchase pipes and other necessary equipment but without a potential source nearby, we still struggle during winter.”

Today, most households in the village get water on their own, investing not less than Nu 30,000 in the process. The water is channelled from the paddy fields. 

Meanwhile, the dzongkhag and gewog administrations have identified a new water source above Bamri in Samkhar gewog. Construction works at the source is in its final stage, according to the village tshogpa. 

Gewog and dzongkhag officials conducted the testing of the pipes yesterday. “Once completed, the new source will be able to cater to the needs of all the households in the village,” said the tshogpa.  

The new source will benefit around 18,000 people in the village.

Younten Tshedup | Trashigang