Nepal | January 23, 2021

EDITORIAL: Water shortage

The Himalayan Times
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The denizens of the Kathmandu Valley receive piped water supplied from the Kathmandu Upatyaka Khanepani Limited (KUKL) twice a week which is not enough to sustain their daily life.

Drinking water has been so scarce that many people rely on bottled/jarred water for drinking and wells/tubewells for other purposes, even during the rainy season during which water should be more easily available.

After the onset of monsoon, the Valley has received a fair amount of rains but the KUKL, a water supply monopoly, has been consistently supplying water to its consumers as in dry season when water level is very low.

It is a commonplace that most of the families buy water from water supplying tankers which collect water directly from springs or streams and sell it to the needy families without purification.

Even this kind of unpurified water is also not easily available.

Ground water level has been depleting every year in the Valley due to over-exploitation by every household that has dug well inside compound blocking the natural recharging process.

KUKL data show that the water supplying body supplies around 1,000 litres to 1,500 litres of water to each of the households per week which is barely enough to support for sanitation, drinking and cooking.

In the previous years, KUKL used to collect 85 million litres of water per day (MLD) during dry season and 150 million MLD during rainy season. But the organization has been collecting only 110 MLD this year due to “inadequate” amount of rainfall after the monsoon became active one week later or on June 16.

According to KUKL, daily demand of drinking water in the Valley stands at 370 MLD while people are getting only 110 MLD which is the shortfall of 260 MLD. The private tankers supply only 30 MLD each day.

This is the main reason that the 2.7 million people living in the Valley always face water scarcity throughout the year.

Even the KUKL officials admit that the water supplying body has not been able to supply enough drinking water because it has not looked for other options than the much hyped Melamchi Drinking Water Project that is under construction for the last 18 years or so.

The drinking water crisis will come to an end after the Melamchi project starts distributing water to the thirsty Valley people in one year.

But it is still not sure if the project will be able to meet its revised target as the main civil construction – digging the 27-km long tunnel – has yet to be completed. Even after the Melamchi Project starts supplying water to the Valley’s growing population from next year its supply will be enough till 2030.

After that the government will have to find other options if enough drinking water were to be made available.

It seems that the government, policy makers and even the KUKL officials are complacent with the Melanchi project which will not be able to meet the ever growing demand of water in the Valley.

Other schemes such as collection of rain water must be worked out before it is too late.

Halt poaching

While there has been success in curbing the poaching of wildlife in forests of the plains it is indeed disturbing that poaching of these animals is continuing unabated in the villages of Bajhang highlands.

The poachers have been active hunting the wildlife under the guise of collecting yarsagumba. The activities of the poachers have increased after it started to snow here about one and a half months ago.

Despite strict instructions of the District Administration Office to the local authorities to halt this clandestine activity they have not been able to do so. The locals say that as many as 300 wild animals have been poached during the collection of yarsa this season.

The wild animals are easy targets for the poachers when it snows because the animals cannot run when the ground is covered by snow. As a result, the number of wildlife including musk deer and mountain leopards are on the decrease every year.

As such, the concerned should take the necessary action to save the precious wildlife. The excuse of the local authorities that they have been unable to halt poaching should not be entertained.

Every effort must be made to contain the activities of the ruthless poachers.

A version of this article appears in print on June 27, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.

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