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Water woe in 9 SMC wards

Siliguri, June 5: Taps in nine wards of the Siliguri Municipal Corporation have been dry for the last four days because of a malfunctioning pump, forcing around 50,000 people to either buy bottled water or fetch it from wells.

“The pump in Pareshnagar, which is in ward 36, has stopped working. As water is distributed to the nine wards by this pump, the supply has stopped,” a source in the SMC said.

The SMC source said that by Monday, the civic authority would replace the malfunctioning part of the pump, and by Tuesday water supply is expected to normalise.

The pump is run by the state public health engineering (PHE) department. Sources in the PHE department, too, said it would take four days to replace the pump machinery.

SMC authorities said they were in touch with PHE officials.

“We have learnt that some machinery needs to be replaced. They have already sent a requisition for the machine which will reach here from Hyderabad. It is expected to reach by next Monday. Once the installation is done, we hope by next week, the water crisis would be over,” S.W. Bhutia, SMC commissioner, said.

The wards that have been hit by the water scarcity are 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43 and 44. Most of the wards are near Sevoke Road.

The SMC has 47 wards and water is supplied thrice each day. The total water consumption in the SMC area is 50 million litres daily.

Archana Das, a homemaker in Pradhanpara in ward 42, said: “Over the past month or so, we had erratic water supply. But now the situation has worsened and not a drop of water is there. Having no other alternative, we are being forced to draw water from wells, boil it and then use it for drinking and cooking.”

Pratap Sharma, a resident of Ektiashal, off Sevoke Road, is spending Rs 100 a day to buy water for the past four days.

“Everyday, I get 20-litre cans from a packaged water supplier for drinking and cooking,” said the businessman.

Water is drawn from the Teesta canal for supply to SMC areas. The water is purified in the treatment plant of the civic body in Fulbari on the outskirts of Siliguri.

The water is then piped to overhead tanks in different places and pumped through distribution pipes to reach homes.

Political parties have blamed the Congress, which ran the civic board till May 20 before the mayor resigned, for the situation.

“The Congress-run board is responsible for this. We have serious doubts about the competence of the former mayor and her MMICs. There is an MMIC for water supply. What was the MMIC doing for the past few months?” asked Krishna Pal, a Trinamul councillor and the secretary general of the party in Darjeeling district.