Villagers’ struggle for water continuesAround 4,000 families in Halesi Tuwachung Municipality face water shortages as supply project chases another deadline.
Shyam Chandra Rai from Halesi Tuwachung Municipality-7 buys water to fill his plastic water tanks at home.
“We have to buy water from private distributors for all our household needs,” he said.
According to the data of the municipal office, out of over 5,000 families in the municipality, close to 4,000 have to buy water as the Large Scale Pumping Drinking Water Project is yet to be completed.
The water project was initiated at the local level under the Department of Water Supply and Sewerage Management in December 2017 with a total budget of Rs 965.4 million. The municipality soon formed a monitoring committee to observe the progress of the project.
“Around 3,825 households in seven wards of the municipality would have benefited from the water project,” said Dilli Chamling, chairman of the project monitoring committee.
The deadline for the completion of the project has already been moved thrice with the latest deadline set to expire today, according to Narayan Adhikari, information officer of the Federal Drinking Water Sewerage Management Project Khotang. So far, 80 percent of the work is complete. However, the pipes laid down for the supply of water have already suffered damages, Adhikari said.
According to Chamling, the shortage of water in the Halesi area has made life difficult for the local households, farmers and businesspersons.
“We have been reeling under a water crisis for more than five years now. I haven’t been able to run my hotel properly because of the water shortage,” said Kamal Rai, a hotel operator of Halesi Bazaar. “The shortage has also worsened the sanitation and hygiene situation in the bazaar areas.”
Diwa-Mahadev Khimti construction company was awarded the contract to build six water tanks with a capacity of 100,000 litres each and three tanks with a capacity of 400,000 litres in Bhumjudada of Ward 1 and Kabredada of Ward 8. The company was also given the contract to install the main pipeline at a total cost of Rs317.5 million.
“The construction company has yet to lay a 6km pipeline out of a total of 80km and arrange transformer connections, among other works. Two tanks with the capacity to hold 100,000 litres each are also yet to be built in Lilimabesi,” said Chamling.
The delay in the overall project work has created setbacks in areas where the work was already completed, says Pradip Myla, a member of the monitoring committee.
“Because the pipeline was laid in the very beginning, the pipes have become rusty now and may need replacing soon,” said Myla. “Also, the pipeline should have been laid above the Mahadevbesi River banks but the company installed the pipeline very close to the river.”
Raman Sagarmatha-Sagarmatha Ghimire JV were awarded a Rs268.5 million contract to distribute water in wards 5, 6 and 7 from 2019 while Lama Constructions was contracted Rs379.3 million for the distribution of water in wards 1, 2, 3 and 4, which was said to start by 2020.
Summer Bhujel, director of the Halesi Development Committee, said that the project could not complete on time since the monitoring of the project was lax. “The contractors are at fault but so is the consumer committee.”
Engineer Sujan Shrestha, who is associated with Diwa-Mahadev Khimti Construction Company, said that the work to distribute water in all the wards can be completed in a month if everything goes according to plan. “It will take a little longer for the supply lines to reach Ward 8,” said Shrestha.