Sunday, March 14, 2004

Waterless days ahead in Valley

Waterless days ahead in Valley

Razen Manandhar
Kathmandu, March 13[2004]:

Water scarcity is something the Kathmanduites have learnt to cope with — admirably or stoically. But when the summer peaks this time, it could perhaps be a different story.
This year, water scarcity has broken all records. In most areas, people used to get water on alternate days but this year they will get water once in four days, and that too, hold your breath, for just an hour.
Mangal Karmacharya of Jyatha is a computer wizard. He wakes up at up at 3.30 am daily for a bucket of water or two from the hand-pump. Like him, all city dwellers lament they are unable to sleep because water is distributed at odd hours - midnight or early morning.
Since last month, water crisis has become a nightmare in Yangal, Om Bahal, Khichapokhari, Duganbahil, Mahaboudha, Ason, Teuda, Jyatha, Chhetrapati, Sorhakhutte, Tahachal and Baneshwor. Tahachal folks haven’t seen a drop for four months. They cough up Rs 300 per month for water — water of sorts.
The Nepal Water Supply Corporation (NWSC) says it is unable to provide more than half the demand during January to April. The total demand for drinking water in Kathmandu is 177 million litres per day but the government provides only 90 million litres. At least 41 million litres of water is lost because of leakage everyday.
Lajana Manandhar, executive director of Lumanti and a member of the NGO Forum for Urban Water and Sanitation, says the government is not serious. “Commitment is lacking. For the last decade, we are hearing about foreign loans, new projects but the water problem is unsolved,” she said. According to NGOs, more than a hundred reports have been tabled on water and sanitation issues but water remains a distant dream.

Supply and demand
• Total water demand - 177 MLD (million litre per day)
• Production capacity - 132 MLD
• Average production - 112 MLD
• Dry Season production - 90 MLD
• Wet Season production - 130 MLD
• Leakage and Wastage - 41 MLD
Source: NWSC, 2001

= = =
Saga of inaction
• 1988 - Consultants from UK identified an inter-basin tunnel from Melamchi valley as the best plan
• 1991 - World Bank/IDA project 8 years project loan for $ 71 million to upgrade distribution network and increase supply in Kathmandu
• 1997 - Donors said that the government should bring in a private operator to manage the water system assets and make this a condition for loans and grants to support the Melamchi investment.
• 1999 - At the end of the WB/IDA project only $ 8.5 million could be spent. WB criticized itself for an inadequate project design.
• 2000 - Urban Water Supply and Wastewater Sector Strategy for Kathmandu Valley released.
• ADB approved a loan of $120 million for Melamchi
• 2001 - Government announced that Melamchi tunnel construction is scheduled to be complete in 2007.
• 2001 - ADB consultant reported on the establishment of the National Water Supply Regulatory Board and Kathmandu Valley Water
Authority (KVWA)
Source: Water Aid Nepal

[KATHMANDU, MARCH 14, 2004, Chaitra 01, 2060