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Battling Water Scarcity in Leh
By Gurmath Lotos, Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Leh: In a very real sense, water is life. Life on Earth started in water and without water life as we know it cannot continue. To provide potable water to each and every one is the responsibility of the concerned authorities and administration. The drinking water crisis in the Leh city was since long time and it is still going on.  The city is known as the most developed and beautiful place in the whole Ladakh region.
Thousands of tourists come to Ladakh to see the unique culture, customs and Lifestyle which are remarkable and example to others. The natural beauty and the mesmerizing high mountain which seems to meet or touch the clear sky impressed and attracted the visitors. Here, I am totally confused and wondered on what basis people describe Leh as the ‘developed’ city, as the three most significant elements of development are missing. The three elements are the economic growth, political development, and social progress. The majority of people are economically, politically and socially vulnerable. Economically, there is no source of income and no job opportunity at all; politically people are not aware of the political rights which are constitutionally provided to every citizen of India. Finally, there are no public conveniences such as drinking water facility in public places and the people suffer. The consequences of this scarcity are also felt in the Skalzangling and Choglamsar.

There are many unheard and untold stories which people are reluctant to tell. How poor people are facing or struggling for basic needs such as drinking water and electricity and so forth. Every human being needs a clean water to make food and to drink.  Most of the people have to wake up at dawn to grab a bucket of water. There is no guarantee that you will get water or not, because the queues are too long & sometimes before your turn, water is stopped by the concerned department. There are instances where the whole families have to eat outside in the hotel.

 Now the point is do all the people have the same problem in Leh city? The answer is certainly not, according to the philosopher or political thinker Marx, the society is divided into two classes the bourgeoisie (rich) class and the proletariat (poor) class.  The so-called bourgeoisie or rich people of Leh have their personal water tap facilities in their fences or premises, they don’t need to step out for water and don’t need to wait in the long queue and quarrel for water early in the morning.

On other hand, the proletariats have to run here and there for a bucket of water and suffer a lot for drinking water.  Sadly, in places like Choglamsar there are no water tap facilities for the public at all, there is only ‘water tanker culture’ which is not our ancestor culture or tradition. The water tanker comes on alternative days or twice in a week.  On that day one member of the family has to waste the whole day to wait for the  tanker because there is no fixed time to come, sometimes  it comes in the morning and sometimes at noon, it is so disgusting, Isn’t it? The people have to sacrifice their work and the student remains absent from school.
Honestly speaking the people have no courage to raise the issue with the authority & it clearly indicates a lack of political awareness and social consciousness among masses. The authorities take advantage and misuse the power and exploit the people at every place.  There is a hand pump for public in Skalzangling but it doesn’t work properly due to lack of maintenance, if it mistakenly functions it is owned by some people, who think they are owner of the public property, locks it and unlocks according to their wishes. It does not matter whether other people are getting water or not. There are many more sad stories to write about common people adjoining to the Leh city.
Who are responsible for the crisis of water, the concerned authority or the public? As an observer, I must say this is the negligence of authority and the concerned authority is answerable to it.
Public too need to wake up and raise their voice. I completely failed to understand, how people elect the leaders for themselves & on what basis. If they choose leaders on the basis of capability than the situation will be something different today. But it seems that they elect the leaders who makes fake promises and shows daydreams during the election.
We are living in a democratic country and in democracy people have certain rights to claim or protest against the authority if it violates, people should not fear to tell the truth about the leader.
In democratic system, people are the main power, if the leader does not care about the public then I think, we should forget them as leaders.
In Leh city there is no single public convenience as drinking water facility to quench the thirst of people, they have to buy a bottle of water. We are not asking the authority to provide water facility at step, but at least the concerned authorities can provide drinking water facility at the bus stand and other important public places.
What I see is, that the so-called leader only appears during the election not when public are in trouble.  Their work is confined to election campaign and makes false promises to give you this and that in five years, after winning the election the leader vanishes.
On national level election, the leaders promise to provide basic needs such as clean water and electricity to every house, but the election system in Ladakh is quite surprising. Our leaders never talk about the basic requirements they says, ‘If I come to power, I will release the fund for this purpose’, what exactly is the purpose nobody knows till today, the basic things are missing in our elections agendas.

Soon Hill council election is coming; this time does not forget to elect the right person who can serve the community in true sense.  They will try to allure and persuade you by money, muscle and even intimidate you, don’t be scared and be bold just say ‘no drinking water facility no vote’ this time.

 Every house struggles for drinking water from a very long time, why people are silent? If the drinking water scarcity continues in Leh city.  It is the accountability of the authority to handle the issue before it’s too late.

The writer is an M.Phil student, at Delhi University. The views expressed are personal.  You can write your comments at

Stanzin Passang Says-   Sunday, May 17, 2015

Hereby I want to state some more points regarding water issues in Leh Valley. I have been noticing that the number of private boreholes is increasing without any restriction by law which depletes the ground water table every year. There should be a limitation on private boreholes by law and there should be a common borehole and a big reservoir established at some high ground above the inhabitants’ areas and then distribute water by tap in each house premises. (Those who can afford are levied some charges for maintenance and those who can’t afford it free community taps per 4 to 5 households should be provided so that we can analyse the water usage per inhabitant over monthly/yearly basis in a controlled manner).

As we all know the water crisis in Leh is soaring up at a rapid rate due to the inverse relation between less winter snow accumulation and the increase in temperature over few decades, which has huge consequences on irrigated agricultural lands.

We Ladakhis used be self-sufficient in earlier times but due to scarcity of water and development taking place due to tourism, people are focusing more on building hotels and guest houses on their agricultural lands, leaving the whole population completely dependent on others. I like the concept of a sewage system in Leh which became necessary due to the increasing amount of hotels and guesthouses but I don’t understand the idea of implementing it in the whole Leh valley where we already have a good dry ecological toilet system.

Implication of a sewage system should first be on a small scale. In this regard I would suggest the area below the Samkar - Shanti Stupa Road where all the guest houses and hotels are located rather than encouraging or forcing adjacent villagers around Leh to adopt flush toilets unnecessarily.