The Telegraph
Tuesday , March 23 , 2010
Since 1st March, 1999
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Tap woes to stay till plans turn realities

Kalimpong, March 22: The Kalimpong municipality is facing acute water shortage because of a prolonged dry season and although the civic body has charted contingency plans to tackle the scarcity, most measures seem to be long term and are not expected to be of immediate help.

As there has been no rainfall since October 15, rivers have dried up and the municipality and the water works department of the DGHC are depending on small streams to meet the water demand.

“As much as 60 per cent water has dried up in the Neora Khola, Relli Khola and the Thukchuk Khola because of lack of winter rain,” said Anil Chhetri, the executive engineer of PHE (water works), which supplies water to the municipality area.

The Neora, Relli and the Thukchuk are the three main sources of water in the town. “To solve the scarcity, we have started pumping water from the jhoras. However, the water we draw from the jhoras (streams) is not enough to meet the demand,” said Chhetri.

Seeking the co-operation of the people to tide over the crisis, the executive engineer said it would help if the consumers ensured that there was no leakage of water from faulty pipes. “Many consumers use poor substitutes of galvanised iron pipes, resulting in colossal leakage of water. In our estimate, as much as 70 lakh litres of water are lost a year because of faulty pipelines,” said Chhetri.

The water works department supplies water to 5,000-odd households in the municipality area for about 30 minutes on alternate days. However, nowadays the residents are being provided with water for half an hour once in three days.

“We will be doing a few things to augment the water supply in the town: the second reservoir at Deola will be repaired and new pipelines with a thickness of 10-12 inches will be laid from the Neora to the reservoirs,” said Chhetri.

Till that happens, the residents will have to continue making their own arrangements for water. In fact, even during the best of times, the residents pay Rs 150 to Rs 200 to buy 1,000 litres of water from the market. “I am buying water at Rs 170 per 1,000 litre. Even that is difficult to get because of the increase in demand,” said Nilesh Khadka, a resident of BL Dixit Road.

Amyas Tshering, the subdivisional officer of Kalimpong, said the civic body was working on a contingency plan to tackle the situation. “Like in Darjeeling, we are thinking of supplying water to residents on vehicles. The department concerned has already talked to the DGHC in this regard.”

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