There seems to be no end to the drinking water crisis for the people of Laptsakha chiwog in Punakha.
It is only becoming worse with every passing day. More than 80 households of the three villages of the chiwog have run dry due to the dying of water sources in their locality.
This situation has been the worst since 2014 with people of Renakha denying water supply to the people of Laptsakha chiwog. As per the villagers, the people of Toebeysa had destroyed their water tanks and pipe. The two villagers had even court case.
The villagers have expressed their frustration and said they raised the issue to every official in every meeting. “However, there seems to be no viable solution to this nagging issue,” the villagers said.
The villagers say that they don’t dream of cultivating crops and earn income. They say there is no sufficient water for domestic animals and that nearby water source have dried up over the years largely affecting crops and vegetables cultivation which are now dependent on monsoon.
“In future there could be drought and people may have to migrate to other places due to water famine,” the villagers echoed.
Sonam Choden, 42, from Gangthramo village said there had been acute drinking water shortage since 2010. She said that though it eases the water crisis during the summer, the problem became severe during the winter seasons. “Sometimes there are brawls and conflicts among the neighbours because of water,” she said.
She added that though varieties of crops and vegetables can be grown in her village, now nothing can be cultivated and that they have to buy vegetables.
Tandin Bidha, 52, from the same village said that with just trickles of water running in their taps it is difficult to manage water for even drinking. She said that maintaining personal hygiene and proper sanitation are a distant task.
Despite interest to make kitchen garden, Tandin Bidha added that villagers do away with planting vegetables as there are no water supplies.
On other hand, Sherab La, 57, said that the concerned officials are failing their duty and not shouldering responsibilities. “If present water source is cared properly it can be distributed sufficiently but gewog officials don’t care,” he said.
Sangay Wangdi, 65, said that the representatives are failing to work. He added that the officials don’t come with strategic plans for water pipeline. “Be it MPs or NCs, Gup or Tshogpas, once they are elected, they don’t bother much of people’s affairs,” he added.
He also wishes if the government can come with accelerating sustainable water services delivery or come up with Desuup Water project like in other villages.
The Tshogpa of Laptsakha chiwog, Kinely Dorji, said that it is true there is severe water problem in Gangthramo, Suedrangsa and Laptsakha villages and accept the grievances of villagers. He said that the present water source is from Toebeysa gewog and the public of the gewog had allowed sharing only one inch diameter pipe water supply which is not sufficient.
The villagers complained that the other reason of having water scarcity is that the caretaker of the water supply is not going for periodical maintenance. Every household pays Nu 600 annually for the caretaker’s services.
Meanwhile, the caretaker of drinking water supply for Gangthramo village, Chimi Rinzin, 41, said that he is doing his best to maintain the water source and pipeline. But he added that the water source which is located at far is difficult to be manned by a single individual.
He said that, especially in summers, it is difficult to clear the debris and remove debris thrown by wild animals, especially by monkeys which cause blockades. Chimi Rinzin wishes if he can get an assistant as it is dangerous to commute and work alone in the jungle.
The water caretaker of Laptsakha village Dawa Norbu, 59, also said that’s he serve the public as he was appointed by the public. The reason he admitted for acute water shortage was that the water sources have shrunk or dwindled over the years.
There are about 85 households in the chiwog.