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Northern Mahottari villages reel under water crunch

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Mahottari, April 20, 2016: Over half a dozen villages in the northern areas of Mahottari district are reeling under an acute shortage of drinking water.

Rampant exploitation of the Chure area, uncontrolled deforestation and a long drought have led to the drying up of water sources.

Locals from Hatilet, Kisannagar, Bijalpura, Pashupatinagar, Bhangaha, Belgachhi, Ramnagar and Kushmadi villages have started feeling the drinking water crunch.

“Over 90 percent of the water sources throughout the village have already dried up. If the crisis continues for one more week, we’ll have to fetch water from a stream two kilometers away,” Mahendra Mahato, a local of Pashupatinagar, said.

Similar is the drinking water problem in Kishannagar of Bardibas Municipality-7. The residents of Kishannagar will also have to fetch their water from a distance of two kilometers, according to Gopal Karki, a local.

Another local, Satyanarayan Sah, said that tube-wells and old underground wells have already dried up in Bhangaha VDC-4, where around 500 households live.

“People have to depend on new underground wells dug up last year” Sah said. According to him, the new wells are insufficient for all the households in the village.

Shortage of water has affected farmers also. In lack of water, vegetable plants have started to dry up, Jabaph Sekh, a farmer in Bhangaha VDC-4, informed.

Lack of timely concern on the part of the authorities has led to the crisis, locals complain. The Land Conservation Office in the district is the local authority responsible for conserving the sources of water. But it has failed to take necessary action, they said.

Meanwhile ongoing projects aimed at conserving the Chure area have yet to bear fruit, it is also learnt.

Devendra Jha, chief of the Drinking Water and Sanitation Office, claimed that his office has started work to solve the drinking water problem in the district.

“The drying up of the water sources is the effect of climate change,” Jha explained. “The only long-term solution is to declare the affected villages a drought area.”

The regular budget is not sufficient for a sustainable solution, and a special project has to be launched to provide the affected locals access to drinking water, it is stated.

Until five years ago, the shortage of drinking water in the district was not so acute. This was before the water sources started to dry up.