The Pinderbera guesthouse in Dalma
Last weekend, Jamshedpur-based banker Sanjay Kumar cancelled his plans to visit Dalma. No, he didn’t have any problem with safety, commute or the heat. But the Pinderbera guesthouse, where he planned to stay with his family, was woefully short of water.
“We wanted to go in March but could not make it due to my professional commitments. So, we had decided to go in April-end as Dalma would have been a welcome respite from the heat. But, when I approached the forest office in Mango, they told me about the water problem. We cancelled our plans as there is no point staying at a place without water,” Kumar said.
Like Kumar, many are cancelling their tryst with Dalma due to water scarcity at the Pinderbera guesthouse.
In 2013-14, visitor headcount at the guesthouse was over 24,000, making it one of the most popular getaways near Jamshedpur. Dalma’s Maoist-hub stain had finally been scrubbed clean.
But, since April-end, the forest department noticed that lack of water had become a problem too big to be ignored. So, whenever guests approach Mango forest office to book a weekend in Dalma’s Pinderbera, forest department officials honestly tell them what the problem is.
“It’s best to be honest. Water is an essential part of hospitality but we can’t provide it adequately. True, visitors call off their plans when they learn about the problem, but we still give them the real picture because we don’t want them to lose trust in us. We have a 500-feet boring but that isn’t working since the past month,” said Dalma range officer Mangal Kachchap.
According to forest officials, despite the 500-feet boring, the water table has depleted.
The forest department doesn’t ferry water manually as it costs Rs 1,000 per trip down to Makulakocha and back to haul up 2,000 litres, which makes it an extremely costly affair.
A forest official said: “Many forest guards and officials prefer going to elephant watering holes. But everybody (who visits Pinderbera) may not be comfortable with the idea. The water problem is very recent and the department is looking into the possibility of a solution.”
Power is not that acute a problem. Jharkhand Urja Vikas Nigam Ltd (formerly JSEB) supplies 10-12 hour power at the guesthouses at Pinderbera, up on the hills, and Makulakocha on the foothills.
It is because of the altitude that Dalma visitors prefer Pinderbera over Makulakocha.
But, Makulakocha, with a guesthouse and a tree house, has enough water too. Moreover, the forest department has completed constructing four new cottages this March. The state forest department, on the lookout for a private vendor to manage housekeeping and canteen services, also needs to release funds to procure furniture for the cottages.
Can you think of a long-term solution for Pinderbera’s water problem?