SURKHET, May 31: Kasturi Kumari Rana of Ghoreta, Simta Rural Municipality-2, spends most of her day fetching water. It takes three hours to collect one ~Igagri~I (vessel) of water. “Most of my time from dawn to dusk is spent in the transportation of water,” she said, “I don't know when this water shortage will end.” There is a water source downhill the village.
She said that it is very difficult to carry water uphill. Due to a dispute with the people of the neighboring Jajarkot, water source and pipeline in her village were destroyed. About 200 other households of Surkhet are facing the same problem at the moment.
A border dispute between Surkhet and Jajarkot has been going on for many years. As a result of the dispute, people of Shivalaya Rural Municipality, Jajarkot, have been destroying the water source of Simta as well as disrupting the water pipeline to the village. Since Ghoreta does not have its own water source, people from Ghoreta have to go to Layakada of Jajarkot to fetch water. Locals from Shivalaya-2 destroyed the water source and pipelines on May 18.
“Chief District Officers (CDO) of the two districts have been meeting time and again to make peace,” Ward Secretary Lal Bahadur BK said, “Every time it seems as if their agreements will work, but everything goes back to square one in a few days.”
According to BK, works relating to the drinking water source development were being carried out properly with a budget of Rs. 10 million provided by the Regional Monitoring and Supervision Office until youths from Shivalaya destroyed the project. Locals of Ghoreta had been using the water from the source since 1985.
“There have been disputes between the two districts for drinking water for years,” BK said, “Even though many inter-district meetings have been held between officials and police, no permanent conclusion could ever be reached.”
Locals from Shivalaya destroyed the pipeline last year too. Locals of Simta faced an acute shortage of water for months, and in response, blocked the road to Jajarkot. After the road was blocked for three days, CDOs from both the districts sat down for a discussion.
An agreement was reached; locals from Simta stopped blocking the road and locals from Shivalaya stopped disrupting the water pipeline.
“Two weeks after the agreement, the dispute arose again,” said a local Bishnu Sharma, “The drinking water pipe was disrupted again, and an acute shortage of drinking water arose in Ghoreta.” Locals knocked the District Administration Office door for help. An agreement was reached again; no disruption took place for some time.
Chairpersons of both the rural municipalities have had many meetings, agreement were also reached. But the agreements could not be made to work.
Simta Rural Municipality is ready to start a legal process now. “We will discuss the matter with Shivalaya Rural Municipality to reach a permanent solution to the drinking water shortage,” chairperson of Simta Rural Municipality, Kabindra KC said, “If no solution is found, we will initiate a legal action.” Chairperson KC also said that since drinking water is a fundamental right of the locals, no one should deprive them of it.