Water dispute turns acrimonious in Panga

Kathmandu, March 23:

A day after the World Water Day was marked, hundreds of people from ward numbers 9, 10, 11, 12 and 18 of Panga village of Kirtipur municipality gheraoed the head office of the Nepal Water Supply Corporation (NWSC), the state-owned body responsible for water supply, demanding an unrestricted flow from a local water source in the village.

The village is located at a distance of about eight kilometres from the capital.

They were protesting against the laying of new pipelines by the NWSC for the purpose of channelising water in a new settlement lying nearby.

Blocking the office, they demanded that the pipelines be dug out and a secure supply of water be ensured in the village.

“A water distribution system was developed in our village over half a century ago. Nowadays, we crave for water every day. To add fuel to the fire, the NWSC is trying to channelise water from here by laying new pipelines,” said 72-year-old Nati Khadgi, a resident of Dhusi village-11 of Panga.

The locals will even break pipelines to secure their share of water, he said.

After an hour-long wait, general manager of the NWSC Lava Kumar Thapa met the protesters at his meeting hall. Prashanta Kumar Maharjan, president of the Panga Water Users’ Group, said: “As the locals themselves have been deprived of water, water should not be diverted to any other area.”

The NWSC is trying to divert water in a new settlement lying nearby because some “influential” people have come to live there, he said.

“We have been living there for centuries and the source of water belongs to us. We cannot tolerate the move of channelising water from our village in big pipes as we ourselves do not have enough water,” he said.

Even as the members called on the NWSC to immediately halt the laying of new pipelines and guarantee availability of water in the area, Thapa left the meeting without giving any written commitment.

“Water shortage has become a common problem. Everybody is suffering. That is why, we are waiting for the completion of the Melamchi project,” he said, adding that a solution would be worked out after a thorough discussion.