A saboteur, on 29th September had pumped diesel into the Thromde drinking water supply of a Mothithang building above the minister’s enclave. A baby residing in the building even had to be rushed to the hospital for checks after the parents, without realising, fed the baby with food made from the diesel water.
The building’s water supply had already been tampered twice earlier including once with some reddish chemical that turned the water white in colour.
Investigations by the Royal Bhutan Police and Thimphu Thromde, at the time, drew a blank.
However, the same saboteur, who seems to have been emboldened, struck again in the same area on 5th October, this time pumping a similar diesel like fuel or kerosene into the drinking water supply of around 6 buildings in the same area including the same building that was hit last week.
The amount of fuel pumped this time was of such quantity that it could be visibly smelt in the water storage tanks of the all the six buildings, which mainly has numerous families staying as tenants.
In fact the landlord of a separate yellow colored building, Jigme Chogyal said that on 5th October evening at around 4.30 pm he first smelt the ‘kerosene like water’ in his kitchen and after checking the tanks found it there too.
It was Jigme who called the Thromde and RBP as he had already heard of the recent diesel attack on the building around 50 meters below his. The RBP and the Thromde went around and checked the tanks of all the six buildings and found the kerosene like smell in five of the buildings tanks. Samples have been taken and sent for testing.
The sixth brown colored building, which in the evening did not have kerosene in its water tank, saw its owner Pema Jungney reporting kerosene smell in the morning.
Worryingly Penjo, the caretaker for the orange colored building, first struck with diesel last week said that according to him the smell from the tank resembled a chemical pesticide used to kill pests on the body of cows. However, the final test reports are awaited and most residents compared the smell to either diesel or kerosene.
According to the Thimphu Thromde the sabotage seems to have happened at the distribution point of the water where the Thromde main pipe ends and the pipes of the six building’s start.
A Thromde staff member said that apart from signs of it having been tampered with there was a white plastic kind of material put in an opening point which was not there earlier.
The RBP which was already trying to investigate the first diesel case had to again rush to the scene and take statements from various residents and landlords in the area.
A water war and an inside job
Penjo, the caretaker said it is the first time that all six buildings have been hit but this is the sixth time that the building that he and his wife look after has been affected with tampering.
He said that even after the 29th September diesel attack there was another attack three days later on the same building when water had been stopped to the building. They found that stones had been stuffed into their water pipes along with chopped up chilli. Earlier there had been instances of around 3 kg worth of pebbles stuffed to block the water pipes. The frustrated landlord Tsencho Wangmo has offered a Nu 100,000 reward for catching the culprit.
The above attempts indicated a clear attempt to stop or slow down water supply to the building. However, the recent diesel and kerosene attacks according to the police and Thromde are clearly aimed at driving away the tenants of all the buildings. The saboteur apart from having all the water pipe related tools is familiar with manipulating water supply.
This is not the only story of earlier sabotage attempts. 57 year old Ugyen Dorji whose family owns a white grayish building in the area said that he had to replace his drinking water pipes two times already due to around three sabotage attempts in the past. He said his pipes had been stuffed with plants, plastic and stones on three occasions. He said it must one of the building owners doing this to slow down water supply to the others.
Pema Jungney, the owner of the brown building and the oldest resident in the area said that there is a water problem in the area as there is no pressure in the water supply. He said that earlier the water could reach above his building but now it has to be stored in a lower tank and then pumped above incurring electric bills.
The Thimphu Thromde Engineer Dawa on his part said that nowhere in Thimphu can the water reach directly in an above head tank and in fact house owners are asked to keep electric pumps to pump the water to any overhead tanks after storing it in a ground level tank.
Pema Jungney said that the bushy area behind his building where the T-point of the water connection is also located is a fire hazard and youth can be seen there doing illegal activities.
Pema Jungney said that a CCTV is required and he would be willing to host one on his building. He also said that the Thromde should be burying all pipes.
The RBP and Thimphu Thromde after discussions have decided to pour concrete on the sabotaged T-point and it is hoped that after this all water sabotage activities will come to a halt. The RBP has also advised the various landlords to pool together money and invest in a CCTV system to protect their common water supply point.