Thirsty folks growl at Melamchi mirage

By A Staff Reporter

melamchiKathmandu, June 16: “Water is our life, water is our civilisation, water is our rights.” 

Hundreds of people frustrated by shortage of drinking water in the Kathmandu Valley, took to the street and chanted the above slogan to exert pressure on the government for early completion of much hyped Melamchi Drinking Water Project.
Braving the mid-summer heat, residents from the five cities of the valley, Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, Lalitpur, Thimi and Kritipur have joined the mass rally at Maitighar Mandala on Saturday afternoon demanding that the local and federal government must ensure the supply of safe drinking water to their homes.
A participant of the rally, Sarita Neupane of Sudurpaschim Province, who is currently living at a rented room in Gatthaghar, said she was reeling under an acute shortage of drinking water.
“I have to wake up till the mid-night to fetch drinking water from a local tap. As water has become scarce, I am wasting my valuable time merely for fetching water.”
Monica Thapa, another student of Buddhanagar, shared her pain stating that a student like her has to wage a kind of struggle to get drinking water on a routine basis.
“Access to safe drinking water is our right. But let alone the access to safe drinking water, we don’t even get water which can be utilized for other daily usages.”
Yogesh Kumar Khadki, a local of ward-27 of Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) said his locality had been facing an acute shortage of water for the past 25 years.
“For many years, the valley denizens have been fooled in the name of Melamchi Drinking Water Project.”
Sabina Maharjan, a local of Lalitpur, has been waiting for Melamchi water to reach her tap for the past 20 years. But even after two decades, the project remained a far cry for the Kathmandu denizens.
“There are taps in every household, but there’s no water. I joined the rally asking the government to complete the project as early as possible.”
The Kathmandu Valley has been reeling under the drinking water woes for many years. Rapid urbanization, unplanned settlements and higher growth of population are blamed for the water shortage in the valley.
The Sustainable Development Goal 6 has clearly mentioned that ensuring access to water and sanitation to all by 2010, Prakash Amatya, a water and sanitation expert, said. “However, millions of people in valley are living without safe water.”
The daily water demand inside the valley is about 400 million litres, whereas the supply is around 90 million litres per day in dry season and 140 million litres per day in the wet season. There is a huge demand-supply gap of drinking water, said Amatya.
“The only ray of hope for the valley resident is Melamchi Water Project. But again, the delay in the project completion has forced the residents to take to the street.”
Amatya said the Kathmandu Upatyaka Khanepani Limited (KUKUL) could ease the water shortage through proportional supply.
According to the Department of Drinking Water and Supply and Sewerage (DWSS), 13 per cent people across the country have no access to minimum level of drinking water.
As per the research, the primary source of water in the valley is tap-water for more than 70 per cent of households, while more than 14 per cent households in the valley use the water supplied by tankers.
More than 80 per cent of tap-water is found to be infected with e-coli bacteria making it unsafe to drink tap-water directly, the research said. 

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