Settlements in Sindhuli’s Chure region hard hit by water scarcityOfficials ascribe the water shortage to rampant deforestation and encroachment of the Chure region.
Ram Kumar Dhami never thought that his settlement would one day reel under water shortage. The settlement of Sirthauli in Dudhauli Municipality, Sindhuli, had plenty of natural water springs until 20 years back, remembers Dhami, who’s in his late seventies.
“Most of the springs that provided water throughout the year are now either dry or drying up,” said Dhami.
A water storage facility built near the settlement is no longer in use because there aren’t enough springs to replenish water.
Officials ascribe the water shortage to rampant deforestation of the Chure region. Bacchuram Subedi, assistant forest officer at the Division Forest Office in Sindhuli, said deforestation and encroachment of the Chure region might have led to the water shortage.
“Several hectares of the Chure forest area have been stripped by illegal settlers and timber smugglers,” said Subedi. “Cases of deforestation are especially high in Ranibas area of Dudhauli, where there’s an acute shortage of water.”
Besides Dudhauli, dozens of settlements in the Chure region of the district, including Kamalamai, Marin and Hariharpurgadhi, are also reeling under severe water shortage.
Bishnu Adhikari, a resident of Dudhauli, said the villagers never had difficulties finding water and firewood when the Chure forests were preserved.
“Thousands of trees, mainly sal, were cut down while constructing roads. Deforestation triggers landslides, creates water shortage and affects grazing land,” said Adhikari.
For instance, the Dharan-Chatara-Sindhuli-Hetauda road section of the Madan Bhandari Highway was constructed mainly through the Chure forests in Sindhuli district. A large area of forest cover was denuded for the construction of the road section. Besides the highway, several other rural roads were built in the region by clearing Chure forest land.
To address the water shortage problem, local units had developed various drinking water projects in the water-hit areas, but with little success.
“Several taps and wells were constructed under various drinking water projects, but they hardly run for a few months, as the water sources dry up,” said Pannilal Kumar of Ratanpur. “We have now built wells on the banks of Kamala River and Marin stream. It takes nearly two hours to walk to the riverbanks, and the water collected there is also not clean.”
The locals worry about health issues that come with drinking unclean water.
“The wells are overused, so the water we bring is murky. We filter the water at home before drinking,” said Urmila Rai of Mahendrajhyadi.
According to the data available at the division forest office, the forest cover of Sindhuli district is around 247,834 hectares, of which 164,258 hectares lie in the Chure region.