World Water Day Today: Water crisis grips Rangamati people as springs, runnels drying up | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 22, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:09 AM, March 22, 2020

World Water Day Today: Water crisis grips Rangamati people as springs, runnels drying up

"All the 35 families in our village have to collect water daily from a distant chhara [spring in the hills]. Our sufferings mount during the dry season," said Karna Rani Tanchangya, 32, of Debotachari village under Ghagra union of Rangamati's Kawkhali upazila.

"We walk long hilly path daily to collect and bring a pitcher of water. We don't know whether it is safe. But we have to use the water for drinking, cooking, bathing and other household chores," she said. 

When the country observes World Water Day today, many other indigenous people of Rangamati and two other districts of Chattogram Hill Tracts (CHT) region have similar tales to tell as the natural water sources like springs and runnels in hills are drying up.

During recent visits to several places of Rangamati, this correspondent found many people collecting water from dug up holes, where water from thin flows gathers.

For the purpose, they have to walk up to four kilometres on hilly paths.

Rupali Chakma, 30, who lives with her three-member family at Chhoto Pagli village of Ghagra union in Kawkhali upazila, said she has to walk a long way every day to collect drinking and household water as there is no water source near her house.

"Once there were more than 30 springs in the upazila. But most of them have dried up. Now we are using water collected from a five-foot-deep well dug on a runnel," said a villager.

Rupa Chakma, a housewife at 'College area' of Ghagra union, said she has to undergo much hardship daily to carry water from a well, walking two kilometres on a hilly path.

Tripan Chakma, a villager of Champa Toli under Ghagra union of Kawkhali upazila, said he tried many times to sink a tube-well or set up a ring well near his house but he did not find a minimum water even after digging 80 to 100 feet.

"Now I am collecting water from a distance. I am thinking of making a reservoir for storing rainwater during monsoon," he said.

Springs dried at many places in the district, including Debotachhari, Chhoto Pagli, Champa Tuli, Morong Chhari, Boro Pagli, Naraichhari, Sakra Chhari and Junu Maa Chhara.

The water flow in many streams got disrupted and stones were dislodged after a massive landslide in Rangamati on 13 June, 2017.

Sudatta Bikash Tanchangya, Parbatya Chattogram Bon o Bhumi Odhikar Sangrakkhon Andolon, said, "The water flows dried as many trees have been felled and large quantities of stones extracted from the stream areas. The local administration should take steps against those who are involved in such harmful acts."

"Water levels see a gradual fall due to rise in temperature. The soil moisture in the CHT is decreasing due to massive cutting of trees and bamboos and monoculture practice," said Anupam Dey, executive engineer of public health department, Rangamati.

"We have already set up 25 Gravity Flow System (GFS) in different areas of Rangamati to ensure water supply in remote areas. We decided to set up 26 more GFS during this Mujib Borsho so that every union of Rangamati comes under the programme," he added.

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