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Private water suppliers fleece consumers as water woes deepens

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Pic. Courtesy: Nepali Times

Kathmandu, April 26, 2016: Private drinking water suppliers are fleecing valley denizens charging more than double for a tanker of drinking water, taking advantage of water crisis in the Kathmandu Valley.

With no standard rate for drinking water supplied by tankers, private water suppliers are arbitrarily charging consumers. These suppliers, who make people wait for as long as three weeks, are immediately supplying water to consumers willing to pay higher price. They are charging as much as Rs 3,000 for a tanker (6,000 liters) of drinking water which they used to deliver at Rs 1,500 earlier.

“Earlier the supplier used to deliver a tanker of water (6,000 liters) at Rs 1,500. Some days ago they told me to wait for nearly 20 days.

They, however, delivered the water the next day when I offered them Rs 3,000,” Shambhu Dhital, a resident at Banasthali, said. “I do not have any choice but to pay exorbitant rate as I was not in a position to wait for such a long time.”

The malpractices in water supplies have become rampant with onset of summer due to absence of government monitoring.

Private water suppliers openly admit overcharging consumers, citing rise in their cost of operation due to load-shedding. “The price has gone up slightly as we have to use generators to pump underground water due to load-shedding,” Hari Kandel, president of Valley Drinking Water Tanker and Boring Entrepreneurs’ Association, said.

Private suppliers have been distributing water to valley denizens through around 700 tankers. Most of them supply ground water pumped through deep wells.

Suppliers say that they have been forced to put consumers in a long queue as ground water sources that they have been relying are drying up. “Drilled wells are drying up at a time when demand for water is soaring. This has compelled us to make people wait for around two weeks,” said Kandel.

Water supply business has flourished in recent years as Kathmandu Upatyaka Khanepani Limited (KUKL), the sole government water utility, has failed to meet water demand of valley denizens.

While the government has set a target of providing people across the country with access to safe drinking water and effective sanitation facilities by 2017, a large number of people in Kathmandu Valley are facing chronic shortage of drinking water. According to the census of 2011, only 85 percent of the population has access to improved water supply.

Though daily water demand in the valley is estimated at 370 million liters, KUKL has been supplying only 80 million liters during summer and 150 liters during monsoon.

Milan Kumar Shakya, spokesperson of KUKL, told Republica that one should wait at least a week to get water from its tanker.

Malpractices are becoming rampant in the absence of monitoring mechanism. Though the Department of Food Technology and Quality Control has been conducting monitoring activities, consumer right activists say such activities have yet to become effective.