| October 24, 2018

Where asking for a drink of water is futile

Bhim Chapagain/Republica A woman at Peltimari in Chulachuli of Ilam carrying water. Bhim Chapagain/Republica A woman at Peltimari in Chulachuli of Ilam carrying water.
ILAM, April 16: When a group of domestic tourists asked for drinking water from a local woman at Chulachuli-7 of Ilam district, she pretended not to hear them. Only after she was asked for water more loudly for the second time did she bring half liter of water for the group of six people to quench their thirst.

As the place is sweltering throughout the day, visitors would hardly expect such an inhospitable approach from the locals. But this is nothing new in Chulachuli as locals have been reeling under acute shortage of water for long. The situation is so adverse that locals would have no choice but to turn down request for water from guests in many occasions.
Many ponds and wells in the village have already dried up. There are no water sources nearby and the locals are forced to travel for one hour by foot to fetch drinking water. They not only have to travel far, they also have to stay in the never-ending queue to fill a little amount of drinking water.

"One member of a family has to spend the entire day just to fill water," said Rajkumari Himbang, a local of Chulachuli-7 who was found waiting for her turn to fill water in a long queue. "My whole time is consumed here and I cannot lend a helping hand for other works," she added.

Moreover, the available water sources are not clean enough to drink. But locals are left without any choice but to use the unhygienic water for drinking, cooking and other household purposes. Instead of being concerned about cleanliness of the water they use, they are more worried that water at those sources are dying up fast.

Chulachuli is just a representative case. There are dozens of other villages in the district that are in equally dire situation due to water scarcity. Apart from Chulachuli, other VDCs including Mahamai, Banjho, Evang, Jitpur, Soyak, Danabari, Ektappa, Siddhithumka, and Phakaphok along others are hit hard by acute water shortage. The dire situation has forced hundreds of locals to migrate to other places.

The government has planned to eliminate drinking water crisis across the country by 2017. However, the district's Drinking Water and Sanitation Coordination Committee (DWSCC) has already dismissed the chances of meeting the government's objective on time.

"There are 32 drinking water projects ongoing in various villages of the district. However, the government has hardly allocated budget for those projects," said Padam Kunwar, chief of the DWSCC. "It would take about Rs 1 billion and 370 million for these projects. The government has allocated only Rs 60 million this year. If the budget is released that way, it would take at least a decade for the projects to complete."