Water project in Rangjung brought to a halt by Covid-19 pandemic

The residents of Rangjung in Trashigang have to wait for another month or two before they can get continuous, uninterrupted water supply to their homes.
The drinking water project in Rangjung, which started on November 25, 2019, has not been able to complete due to the pandemic and the lockdown in Trashigang and Samdrup Jongkhar. The initial deadline was scheduled on January 24, 2021, but it was further deferred to June this month. However, the project is yet to be completed and further 10 to 20% of the works need to be labored.
The drinking water project is funded by the Asian Development Bank with a total budget of Nu 45.32mn.
The project manager in Trashigang, Sonam Chojur said the water project is supposed to be completed this month but the work is incomplete.
He said during the monsoon due to the landslides, the pipelines are washed away between the water source intake and sedimentation tank, which is almost 500m away from the water source.
The Dzongkhag tender committee along with the Dasho Dzongdag had also visited the site and found out that the feasibility to reinstall the pipelines was not possible.
Additionally, with Samdrup Jongkhar under lockdown, the water supply pipes have to be brought from Calcutta, India and materials were not able to reach the site. The labor shortage is another issue for the incomplete water project as the Indian laborers are replaced with local workers.
“They are unskilled to do the works such as fitting and other pipe works,” Sonam Chojur said.
The project, meanwhile, is on halt and the Dzongkhag tender committee had not advised on any extension. However, the manager said the project is expected to be complete in July to August this year.
Municipal officials in Rangjung said due to the growing population in the town, the issue of water shortage had started. Occasionally, the water supply is closed to store water and maintain continuous flow of water.
“When the users are more, at the same time, water becomes insufficient to reach every household,” an official said.
A Tshogpa of Rangjung satellite town, Karma Sonam Tashi said in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, they have not got any information on why the project was delayed and when the project will be complete.
“I am not informed when the project will be continued and the Covid-19 pandemic has caused the delay in completion,” he said.
He believes that previously there were no issues of water shortage but the increase in population has lead to the shortage of drinking water. However, the water shortage in the town is not a severe case unlike other districts.
One of the residents says the project was started more than a year before but it has not been completed this year too.
He said with the completion of the project, they expect to solve the issue of water shortage and prevent the issues of water problem in the future.
“The project is taking so long that we might have to wait a few more months,” he said.
Meanwhile, the completion of the new water project is going to benefit more than 2,000 people including local residents, schools, Dratshang, Basic Health Unit, offices, and the Technical Training Institute.

Tenzin Lhamo from Trashigang