Thimphu thromde started collecting water charges from car washing units in response to the Performance Audit Report on the Provision of Safe Drinking Water in Thimphu Municipality.
It has been observed that Thimphu thromde is providing drinking water connection to car washing units despite the fact that there are some areas with frequent drinking water shortages.
According to the performance Audit Report on Provision of Drinking Water in Thimphu Municipality, 2017, currently there are 28 commercial car washing units in Thimphu municipality. Out of 28 units, nine are provided with thromde’s water supply and rest have their own private water connections. Thimphu thromde provided drinking water connections to these nine car washing units despite water shortage in some areas.
The Royal Audit Authority (RAA) also found water meters installed at some car washing units during the site visit but water charges were not levied to car washing units. And in other cases, water meter was not even installed. Out of nine units, it was found out that the water charges for eight car washing units were not levied till date of audit and the remaining one was found not metered.
“The car washing units have been using treated drinking water for washing cars. Moreover, these units are charging people without paying any charges to the government”, audit report states.
As per the Water Act of Bhutan 2011, “A person availing thromde’s services shall pay a charge as prescribed and competent authority should impose and collect water supply service charges, waste water disposal service charges and other service fees”.
Even the Water Act of Bhutan 2011 prioritizes water use in drinking and sanitation and agriculture. The provision of treated drinking water to the car washing units not only deprives the intended beneficiaries but also contradicts the priority given in water act.
According to thromde, “Only one car washing unit Dargayling Car Wash Service is using thromde’s water connection and the remaining eight units are using both thromde and private water connection. And there are few who use their own private water connection. When water supply at Babesa and Olakha was completely cut off for weeks due to landslide, works at some car washing units were going on which indicates that these units were using private water connections”.
Thromde said, “We do not know why water charges were not collected before but we started collecting water charges from July 2017 and shall continue to collect because we do realize the importance of water”.