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Dispute over water source

Resource: Bjop, a resident of Tsangzam in Thedtsho has accused the gewog’s gup of depriving him of drinking water from a stream below Rinchengang village.

Bjop, said it was sometime in 2002 that he bought the water source from a villager of Rinchengang and that he had been using it until 2012.

However, that same source had already been sold to two other residents of Tsangzam in 2000. Both residents had also been using the source until 2012.

Following a dispute between Bjop and the other two residents in 2012, they approached the gewog seeking intervention.

However, after an investigation, the gup decided that Bjop would not be allowed to use the source.

Bjop claimed that since then, the other two owners have completely cut off his water connection citing the present gup’s decision.

Bjop then approached the dzongkhag and another investigation followed. The dzongkhag decided that all three should be provided through a rural water supply from Nahi.

Bjop said while the gewog has provided him with drinking water through the Nahi rural water supply catering to residents of Tsangzam, the quantity is not adequate and the connection frequently gets disconnected.

“We hardly get water twice a month from the Nahi source,” he said. This makes it difficult for not just his family but also his 10 tenants, of which three have already left following the water shortage.

Having to pay monthly for a housing loan and losing tenants has put him in a difficult financial situation, he said.

“When the rural water connection works started, we paid Nu 20,000 and now pay Nu 5,000 per year for annual maintenance,” Bjop’s wife said.

Bjop added: “I feel the gup’s decision is biased because although all three of us were provided water from the Nahi source they are still allowed to drink from the disputed source, while I am not.”

He said that as the disputed source has an adequate quantity of water, the gewog should consider sharing it among all three who had purchased the source, rather than only two of them.

“I have been running from pillar to post for several years but it was all futile,” Bjop said. “Our local leaders have no ears to listen to our concerns and problems,” he added.

Thedtsho Gup, Phurba, who is also the thrizeen of the Wangdue dzongkhag tshogdu refuted Bjop’s allegations of making a biased decision. “Every decision was taken by a committee and I never told him that he is not allowed to drink from the disputed area,” he claimed.

He said as per the dzongkhag’s decision they were provided with water from the Nahi source.

However, the gup said that Bjop had never raised the issue of water shortage at any gewog meeting and that he had not even put up the issue with the gewog or even shared it with his tshogpa. “This is the first time I am hearing about the water shortage problems he is faced with,” said Gup Phurba.

“If any villagers or residents of the gewog approaches us about any issues, we try to look out for ways to resolve it through the gewog committee,” said Gup Phurba.

Meanwhile, as per the water Act 2011, water resources are the property of the State, and rights over water resources, including the bed and banks of watercourses shall vest in the State. However, even with the existence of an Act, there are many cases in rural villages where a few villagers still claim traditional water rights and some even sell water.

Dawa Gyelmo | Wangdue

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