water scarcity in Darjeeling (extract)

The following article is an abstract from Darjeeling Times by Bhotoo Singh Chhetri. Though written in 2006 the issues is still relevant.

Now days, it has become a common known fact to the people of Darjeeling from every walks of life that the Darjeeling Town is supplied with drinking water from twin Senchale lakes( South Lake with capacity of 13 million gallons built in 1910 & North Lake with capacity of 20 million gallons built in 1932) having its source from 26 Nos of perennial springs in the Senchal Catchments Area, constructed by Thos Kenay ; the first engineer of Darjeeling Municipality, which is five and half miles away from Darjeeling Town.


The days when , every house hold of the town used to get water in the morning and evening daily has become the past history of Darjeeling town. At present the idea of getting water twice a day in Darjeeling is nothing less than a fairytale.

During rainy season the collection of water at Senchal Catchments area becomes sufficient from 8 to 10 springs, the rest of the springs have to cut off due to limited capacity of reservoirs at Senchale lakes Besides these two lakes, another third lake with capacity of 15 million gallons was constructed by Government of west Bengal in the year 1978 at Singdhap, but due to poor quality of the reservoir and leakage, it is almost dead lake. Considering the need of the growing population with exploding geometrical ratio and the flow of tourists, it is urgently necessary to construct more additions reservoirs at Senchale area.

Besides the construction of additional large reservoir at Senchale area , there is also need for the construction of various sizes of subsidiary tanks in each and every village and ward as per the availability of space, if this initiative is not taken in proper time then there will be no space left unoccupied for this purpose in near future.

For the local hoteliers it has become very difficult to explain the foreign and domestic tourists about the acute shortage of water, because while coming from Siliguri to Darjeeling they see that plenty of water is going wasted in the road side drain , so they can not believe that there is real shortage of water in the town . Besides the tourists, it is also not believable for the local inhabitants too because during dry season the Municipality distributes the water through water tanker and Trucks carrying water from Darjeeling itself, the farthest source is 20 kilometers far from town i.e Rambi Khola previously ignored by the PHE Department. So it is hard to believe that the crisis is actually caused by the shortage of water.

It is obvious that one of the main problem of the water scarcity is due to the shortage of reservoir. The permanent solution of the water crisis is totally depended in the willingness and the sincerity of the State and the Central Government in the humanitarian ground because till this day the political leaders are taking it very lightly for their political benefit. During elections every time local leaders and national leaders makes it a big issue next to the statehood demand and promise to solve the problem after the elections and for this they don’t even waste any time for laying the foundation stone without any hesitation for the various water supply scheme but after the elections this scheme remains confined only to the laying of its foundation stone because no further progress takes place and the scheme does not continue any further.

Now, even in the rainy season people get water once in three days or four days only that also for a very limited period. But in the dry period i.e. in March, April and May water is supplied at an interval of six to thirteen / fourteen days.

All the people of Darjeeling are facing acute water crisis, ever since but nobody dares to raise their voice against the Government. Until and unless a true and sincere leader is born in Darjeeling, the water problem will not be solved because water crisis is the only easiest way to keep the young generations engaged in order to indirectly prevent them from going to schools and colleges regularly and being educated.


About odissi30

My name is Puja Doshi. I am an anthropologist from Hamburg interested in the topic of water.
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