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Final say: A tshogpa in Barp gewog, Punakha, intervenes to divide the limited water in the irrigation canal among three chiwogs earlier this year.
Final say: A tshogpa in Barp gewog, Punakha, intervenes to divide the limited water in the irrigation canal among three chiwogs earlier this year.

Government to explore all possibilities for 24/7 drinking and irrigation water

Yangchen C Rinzin

Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering said that the government’s priority was to ensure 24/7 drinking water and irrigation water supply through the Water Flagship programme.

“We’ll explore all the possibilities,” Lyonchhen said. “However, we’re worried when it comes to the irrigation water. There might not be enough water sources. It could be challenging.”

Prime Minister signed the flagship’s Annual Performance Agreement (APA) for the fiscal year 2019-2020 with the works and human settlement ministry, the lead agency which subsequently signed the APA with the implementing agencies.

Some of the plans to ensure 24/7 drinking water and irrigation supply are protection of critical watersheds and wetlands, development of adequate and climate resilient infrastructure for drinking water and irrigation.

According to the flagship document, there are plans to improve drinking water quality surveillance for 20 dzongkhags and strengthening of water legislation and governance.

To meet the flagship programme, the government has already allocated a budget of Nu 3 billion.

The programme would be implemented phase wise in four thromdes and 11 dzongkhags.

The 11 dzongkhags are Chukha, Dagana, Mongar, Paro, Pemagatshel, Samdrupjongkhar, Samtse, Trashigang, Trongsa, Wangdue, and Zhemgang.

The flagship also aims to strengthen implementation of water legislation and governance to provide 24/7 safe drinking water. Most of the actions to ensure safe drinking water in these areas include implementation of urban and rural water supply schemes and activities including the monitoring of progress of flagship programme.     

A total of Nu 500 million has been earmarked for implementing the fiscal year 2019-2020 activities. Some of the activities also include conducting watershed assessment and payment for ecosystem services (PES) studies, feasibility study for water supply systems, and initiate study on non-revenue water for thromdes.

In dzongkhags, it will also look into rehabilitation and construction of rural and urban water supply schemes.

It will also include water treatment and distribution systems, and strengthening of water testing centres in the thromdes and dzongkhags. The flagship programme aimed at improving drinking water quality surveillance for 20 dzongkhags

Meanwhile, APA was signed between prime minister and ministers of finance and home, secretaries, and 10 autonomous agencies.

The government has pledged to address the water needs of every Bhutanese and ensure availability of water within three years of government’s tenure.

Some of the commitment it made was to have a dedicated agency to manage water distribution, explore conversion of wetland to dry land in of the place where there is no water source.

It has also pledged to protect watersheds and sources to sustain water supply thereby ensuring water for all by 2021.

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