Water tanker operators doing brisk business in quake-hit Salyantar

- Harihar Singh Rathour, DHADING

Jan 3, 2017- Commercial water tankers are doing a brisk business in Salyantar VDC, Dhading, these days. After most of the water sources in the village dried up following the earthquakes of 2015, the locals have been relying on water transported from the Netrawati river. 

Nine tankers have been ferrying water to Salyantar on a daily basis, for which the villagers are paying transport fare of Re 1 per litre. The villagers are not just paying the tankers to supply water for drinking purpose. Most of the villagers are also paying the tankers to supply water that they need to construct their homes.
Out of 2,300 households in Salyantar, 2,200 were affected by earthquakes. Many of them lost their homes in the disaster and they are currently constructing new homes.
Phadikanta Chahatkuli, a quake victim and former secretary of Salyantar VDC, said he had never imagined that one day he would have to pay for water in the village. 
“For people like me who lost their homes in the earthquake, we have no alternative but to buy water. I think the cost of water will be the same as that of construction materials by the time the house is completed,” he said.
When Ishwor Burlakoti, a local teacher, saw water tanker operators making up to Rs 8,000 profit a day, he was tempted by the idea of buying a second-hand tanker and starting his own water transportation business. 
He visited the district headquarters and got himself an oil tanker, for it could transport more water than ordinary water tankers operating in his village.
Today, Burlakoti’s tanker makes up to seven trips in a day, supplying water to the villagers from the Netrawati river. On a good day, he earns up to Rs 40,000.
Like Burlakoti, Sanju Shrestha is also in water transportation business. He says his primary clients are the villagers who are constructing homes.
“Constructing a simple house needs around 2,100 litres of water and if every earthquake-affected families are to build simple houses, they will have to spend around Rs 46.2 million just for water,” he said.  
The water shortage is not limited in Salyantar VDC alone. There are dozens of places, particularly in the central region of Dhading, including the district headquarters Charikot and the VDCs of Katunje, Maidi, Nalang and Kebalpur, that are also reeling under water shortage.
Jhanak Narayan Shrestha, a social activist, said the problem of water in the district has mostly affected the earthquake-affected families. He added that the pipelines installed by the government were useless as most of the water sources have dried up.

Published: 03-01-2017 09:20

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