A water crisis

Thimphu, and for that matter Bhutan, is learning an important lesson in water management with record low temperatures leading to the freezing of Thromde and household pipelines.

The conversation can no longer be just about tapping water sources and building tanks, but it has to now move to how we can ensure that the entire water infrastructure is weather proof.

One facet of climate change is not just rising overall global temperatures, but it is also about extreme weather events triggered by such rising temperatures with drought, heavy downpours, freezing weather, heat waves, high winds and more- becoming quite common.

One reason that the Punatsangchu II coffer dam keeps getting flooded over is because while it took into account all past flood data, it did not keep in mind the future scenario of higher water levels.

We must ensure that apart from tapping reliable water sources our water infrastructure should not give way at the first sign of extreme weather events and, even if they do, then we should have contingency plans.

The lack of water in the past two or so weeks in Thimphu show how vulnerable out water infrastructure is and how poorly prepared our authorities are.

The Thrompon and Thromde have to have a contingency plan better then getting a water tanker from Phuentsholing. The Thrompon sits on an elected post and so he must remember he is accountable to the people.

The Prime Minister and his government cannot escape accountability only because there is no water in the PM’s house. Sympathy will come, once or twice, but after a while people may start wondering about a leader who cannot even help himself, leave aside helping others.

It is ironic that in the same week the government won praise for sticking to Nu 45 bn in aid for the 12th plan and getting a decent tariff rate, it is also came cropper when dealing with the first natural disaster in its term.

You can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water.
Rabindranath Tagore

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