Kalimpong reels under water crisis

Statesman News Service
SILIGURI, Jan. 22: An acute shortage of water has forced the Kalimpong hospital authorities to purchase 4,000 litre water today and postpone several surgical cases.
Water crisis in the three hill sub-divisions of Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong is a regular feature during the winter season. The situation worsens in April-May and continues till the arrival of the monsoons.
Purchasing water, therefore, to meet the daily requirement is an additional expense the people of the Darjeeling hills have to bear with during the lean period.
Affected by increasing population, the water crisis is growing worse each year and it is particularly bad this year in Kalimpong.
“There is no water in the Deolo Lake, which feeds water to the Kalimpong town. Moreover, a breakdown has occurred in one of the inlets to the lake. We are trying to rectify the situation,” Mr S Lama, water works department official, said.
Incidentally, unlike Darjeeling, Kurseong or any other town where the local municipality or corporation is responsible for water supply to a town, Kalimpong is an exception. Here, the water works department, which is under the DGHC, shoulders the responsibility.
Admitting that the Kalimpong hospital had to purchase water for the patients and other work, the hospital’s acting superintendent Dr Sonam Dhakpa said: “I am not sure how much water was purchased.”
He also admitted that several surgical cases had to be postponed due to lack of water: “Major surgeries cannot be performed without water.” He, however, could not say how many of the surgery cases were postponed today. “Please speak to the superintendent, who is expected in two days’ time,” he added.
According to local information, the hospital had to postpone five surgical cases today because of lack of water.
“We were asked to return at some later date as surgery was not possible today,” said Mrs Poonam Tamang a local whose sister was supposed to undergo an appendix surgery today.
“My cousin, who is from Darjeeling fell ill during his stay with us in Kalimpong. He was to be operated upon today but we were asked to report later,” said Mrs Jina Roy another local resident.
The situation has made the CPI-M’s local unit see red.
“We have given the water works department 48 hours to solve the crisis failing which, we shall launch an offensive against the department,” the party’s senior leader Mr Tara Sundas, threatened.
The Kalimpong SDO is aware of the situation.
“There is no disturbance till Algarah, but the water sources are tapped in the rural areas as a result of which, sufficient amount of water does not reach Kalimpong. I would hold a meeting with the municipality, water works department and PHE authorities on the matter soon,” the Kalimpong SDO Mr Shaqueel Ahmed, said.

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