…thromde and contractor blame each other

Kelzang Wangchuk | Samdrupjongkhar

Although Samdrupjongkhar thromde constructed a water treatment plant (WTP) at Pinchina to address water shortages in the thromde, residents of Samdrupjongkhar Toed and Bar are still facing acute water shortage.

A resident, Ugyen Zanmo, said she fetched water from a pond near automobile workshops about a kilometre from her home in summer, but it is challenging in winter, as ponds dry.

Another resident, Leki Zangmo, 50, said they were provided water twice a day last year but not this year. 

Residents allege the WTP failed because of technical problem.

They said thromde should explore more bore well and construct WTP with new distribution lines. 

“Landslides wash away water pump for the plant at Pinchina in summer,” a resident, Pema Gyeltshen, said.

Thromde officials say they supply water from its old gravity line and gallery at Pinchina because the intake water pump of the new WTP is damaged.

Thromde’s engineer, Mani Kumar Rizal, said there is water shortage, as the old gravity line and gallery have less capacity.

He said thromde’s tankers supply water whenever residents demand. “We have told the contractor to fix the pump at the water intake. In the meantime, I would request house owners to store water and supply to the tenants.”

Mani Kumar Rizal said the thromde had also tendered and awarded the distribution lines’ construction works. “We have realised about five percent mobilisation funds.”

He said the water problem would be addressed after the distribution lines are completed.

The thromde tried to explore two bore wells near the automobile workshops and State Mining Corporation Limited (SMCL) office for Local Area Plan (LAP) II and LAP III but did not get water even after digging more than 250 metres deep. Thromde spent about Nu 800,000 for this.

Meanwhile, project manager Karma Kinley said that since the project’s manual operation started in August 2019, contractors requested the thromde to enter into the operation and maintenance (OM) phase as they supplied the treated water on manual operation mode.

He said although automation works completed about 95 percent by the end of November 2019, they could not do the finishing and testing due to the requirement of the voltage stabiliser transformer (VST). “We realised this was required towards the end of 2019.”

He said thromde denied to accept OM phase without automation in place. “We requested thromde to release 100 percent of the bill of quantity (BoQ) and OM budget, but they released only 50 percent a month.”

He said the budget could not meet staff salary and a pool vehicle. “So we could not repair and maintain pumps that malfunctioned often.”

Karma Kinley said they tried to send the pumps to India for repairing and procure new pump, spending more than Nu 150,000 but couldn’t run the project from August 18, 2020 as the thromde stopped payment.

He claimed there is nothing mentioned in the tender documents that the contractor should run the project before entering into the OM phase and supply water at their own expenditure. “We are also worried about the wear and tear of the equipment, which may have extra cost in the OM period.”

He said the thromde should run the plant at their own decision and cost until they are not comfortable accepting the OM phase or release actual OM price.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) funded Nu 89M for the WTP.