Locals pleading for safe drinking water
Rangamati's Sajek union has been drawing the attention of tourists for a long time with its eye-catching natural beauty and exceptional lifestyle of the indigenous population.
But this beautiful union has also been going through severe crisis of safe drinking water for many days, a long standing problem which has not been solved yet by the authorities concerned
A total of 50,000 indigenous people of Pangkhuya, Chakma, Lusai and Tripura communities live in Sajek. Around 500 families of five moujas, namely Shialdai, Konglak, Betling, Lonkor and Suimui of the union, are currently in desperate need of fresh drinking water.
They are dependent on natural sources of water like springs and streams for drinking water and their daily activities. But many of these dry up during the dry season, which causes sufferings to locals.
Apart from that, women in these areas have to walk around two to three miles to collect water from wells and springs.
The water of the natural sources is often polluted by dry leaves and other pollutants, causing people to suffer from different water borne diseases including diarrhoea.
Methon Tripura, a resident of Luingkhiyan para, said: "We are going through scarcity of water crisis. We need to cross many hills to collect water. Previously, we would make a small hole in low lying areas and collect cold water from it. But nowadays it's become difficult to get water, despite digging deep."
Sajek union parishad member Joiputhang Tripura said:"In the rainy season, we get water that flows down from hills. But in the dry season, the water crisis becomes severe as the source of water dries up."
Residents need to trek two to three kilometres and wait in a queue for hours to collect water from wells, he added, "The problem will be solved if large water tanks are provided in the hilly areas."
"That many remote areas like Sajek have been going through a water crisis is not a new issue. We read various news regarding the problem in newspapers. But unfortunately we have failed to provide safe drinking water in these areas which is an absolute failure for all of us,” said Adivasi writer Nyo Hla Mong.
“Besides, we did not take care of the natural sources of water, like springs, which has exacerbated the water crisis." he added.
"We need to arrange safe drinking water through government and non government projects. Moreover, the natural sources of water should be taken care of." he added.
What the authorities say
Regarding the matter, Rangamati Department of Public Health Engineering(DPHE) Executive Engineer Anupom Dey said: "Sajek is a very remote area. It's very difficult to install tube wells here as stones are found after we start digging."
If the local authorities and representatives of the union file an application, a team from the Research and Development Department of DPHE will inspect the area and will take a decision, he added.
Speaking on the issue, Baghaichhari Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) Ahsan Habib Jitu said the water crisis in the remote areas in Sajek is very old. There is no scope of installing ring wells there as the areas are mostly impassable.”
"Last May, a team of the Ministry of Water Resources visited Sajek's Shijokchhara area to build a rubber dam for reserving water. But, while many locals support constructing the dam, many do not. A meeting will be held with the local and political representatives of Sajek in the ministry in this regard."
"If a rubber dam is constructed, the water crisis problem can be solved." he added.