Pipeline damage compels residents of a Salyan village to drink untreated waterAround 60 households in Namra village are drinking muddy water from the Bheri river and many people are falling ill.
Khagapati Sharma, a 76-year-old woman from Namra village in ward 1 of Bangad Kupinde Municipality, has resorted to drinking the murky and polluted water from the Bheri River for almost three months after the pipes of the Chipchipe-Namra Drinking Water Project that fed the village were destroyed during the construction of an irrigation canal.
Sharma said that, like her, around 60 households in Namra are also drinking untreated water from the river which has led to several people falling ill.
“Most villagers are ill with diarrhoea and dysentery because they are drinking untreated water,” said Sharma. “The drinking water project was the only clean source of water for us. Until two years ago, we had to walk for several hours to fetch clean water from the neighbouring villages.”
According to Basudev Pokhrel, health coordinator of Bangad Kupinde Municipality, nearly everyone in the village is suffering from stomach aches, diarrhoea, and dysentery. “Some are even suffering from skin allergies. The children and the elderly are the most affected due to the lack of clean water,” said Pokhrel.
Chitrakala Sharma, principal of the Ganga Primary School in Namra, said that absenteeism among students has increased over the past few months. “Children are falling ill with stomach aches. Almost every child’s attendance rate has dropped in the past few months.”
The Chhipchhipe-Namra Drinking Water Project was completed three years ago and came into operation two years ago.
“For the last three months, Namra locals have been consuming muddy water from the river. We have advised them to boil the water before drinking, but that’s only a precautionary measure,” said Pokharel. “If the broken pipeline is not restored soon, there could be an outbreak of diseases in the village.”
Ratna Pariyar, a 45-year-old man from the same village, said that they sometimes cross the Bheri River to go to Simta Rural Municipality in Surkhet district, which is closer in distance compared to villages in the Bangad Kupinde Municipality, to fetch clean drinking water from the public taps. “But it’s dangerous to cross the rain-swollen Bheri River during the monsoon. So we mostly have been using the untreated river water,” said Pariyar.
According to Bangad Kupinde Municipality, the Chhipchhipe-Namra Drinking Water Project was initiated by the Drinking Water, Irrigation, and Energy Development Office, Salyan, two years ago at the cost of Rs 5.2 million.
“Clean water was being supplied to Namra village from a spring at Chhipchhipe in ward 3 before the supply pipes were damaged during the construction of an irrigation canal,” said Purushottam Acharya, deputy mayor of the municipality. “Around 2km length of the pipeline has been damaged by the construction activity.”
“We have informed the District Drinking Water, Irrigation, and Energy Development Office, but we don’t know when the pipes will be repaired,” said Acharya. “The municipality doesn’t have the necessary funds and resources to repair or replace the damaged pipes.”