Over 1,000 households in Dadeldhura reeling from acute shortage of waterOpening pathways and building roads have caused natural water sources to dry up, locals say.
Around 1,000 households in two wards in Ajayameru Rural Municipality, Dadeldhura, live under acute shortage of drinking water throughout the year.
This perennial drinking water crisis has so far seen a dozen villages of Ward 5 and 6 in the municipality migrate to other areas, especially to the Tarai districts. The locals complain that the authorities have been dismissive about their problems even after repeated requests to address them.
“Our village never had surplus supply of drinking water but it was enough for every household in the village,” said Hari Rawat, a native of Dewal village.
The shortage of drinking water has become severe in the last two years, he added. “The local unit started opening roads everywhere using heavy machines and in the process destroyed natural water sources which the villagers relied on.”
With more of his neighbours leaving the village for want of drinking water, Rawat’s getting more worried. “Many households in my village migrated to Tarai districts and other places. If this continues then our villages will turn into ghost villages,” he said.
According to the data of local ward offices in the rural municipality, 72 families from Ajaameru Ward 5 and 6 have migrated from the area in the past two years. There are 559 families in Ward 5 and 478 households in Ward 6.
Gal, Matela, Bhandarigaun, Jhingni, Rajul, Odigaun, among other settlements in the municipality, have for years reeled under water scarcity for the lack of natural springs or water sources nearby. The locals, who have persevered the drought, say that they have to walk for hours to find water for drinking and other household works.
“We have to walk for six hours to fetch water from a stream these days because the few natural springs we had around our area have also dried up. We have to carry water not only for ourselves but also for our cattle. The villagers have been gradually evacuating the area because it is a hard life here,” said Lal Bahadur Khadka, a local of Rajul.
The construction of around half a dozen roads in the forests above the settlements have worsened the water crisis, said Khadka. “The construction work in the forest area is leading to a gradual drying up of natural springs,” he said.
The villagers blame the people’s representatives for ignoring their concerns and for prioritising road construction rather than addressing the drinking water crisis. “The rural municipality allocated most of its budget on road construction. The way the construction is taking place is unsustainable which has further heightened the drinking water crisis in the villages,” said Harish Lawad, a local youth.
Stating that the crisis has gone unabated especially since the formation of local level in 2017, he said, “The ward offices are spending the budget allocated for drinking water projects on road construction since the latter is more lucrative in terms of commissions.”
The rural municipality spent millions of rupees in purchasing vehicles for commission but ignored the water crisis, according to Dharma Devi Khadka, a local woman leader of Dewal. “Development committees have been formed in all the villages but the provision has done little to mitigate the water crisis situation. The municipality has not allocated budget to the development committees for drinking water projects,” she added. The local unit purchased two four-wheelers recently which are currently being used as public transportation vehicles, according to Dharma Devi.
The rural municipality, however, has an ambitious plan to supply water to the villages from the Suranaya river and resolve the water crisis. “Drinking water problem is acute in the villages here, especially since all the nearby water resources are drying up. We are planning on bringing water into the villages from the Surnaya river,” assured Kalawati Bhand, the vice-chairperson of the local body.
The locals, however, are not convinced. “The river is almost five kilometres from the village and it is a mammoth task to lay the pipeline. It will take years,” said Dharma Devi.
The possible project has not been surveyed yet, she said.
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