Water Crisis in 80 Punjee Villages in Moulvibazar

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Indigenous people bring water from a locally dug well at Nahar punjee in Srimangal upazila under Moulvibazar district for drinking and household work as there is no source of safe water in the area. Photo credit: STAR

Article courtesy of Mintu Deshwara | July 3, 2014 | The Daily Star | Shared as educational material

Around 15 thousand indigenous people living in 80 punjee (betel plantation) villages under seven upazilas of the district are suffering from crisis of safe drinking water.

In absence of tube-well in the areas, these people, mostly betel farmers, have to use salty water drawn from over 170 wells they dug on the sandy land.

“We collect salty water from a well for drinking, cooking and other household works,” Lari Lamin, 27, a housewife of Nahar punjee in Sreemangal upazila, told this correspondent during his recent visit to the area.

Many people, including children, suffer from various water-borne diseases like dysentery and diarrhoea as they have to drink impure and salty water, said Thiari Suting, 45, another housewife.

Visiting Cholta punjee 25 kilometres from Srimangal upazila town, this correspondent found people collecting water from wells for drinking and household works.

Many children suffered from diarrhoea and dysentery during the last one month but the poor families could not arrange medicines for them, said villager Tomas Suting.

“Now we find it difficult to take bath and wash our clothes after doing household chores and agricultural works as water level in the wells is low,” said Johinul Kongwang, headman of Choltacherra punjee.

Around 15 thousand people belonging to Khasi and Garo communities in 80 punjee villages under seven upazilas of the district, face acute crisis of safe drinking water as there is no tube-well in the areas, said Bably Talang, general secretary of Kuboraz Inter Punjee Development Association of Khasi people.

The people of punjee areas in the union are suffering much as well water they drink and use is polluted with bacteria and arsenic. On several occasions we requested the upazila administration to ensure safe drinking water for the villagers by sinking tube-wells, but to no effect,” said Bijoy Banerjee, chairman of Rajghatu union parishad.

This correspondent failed to contact Moulvibazar Deputy Commissioner Kamrul Hasan regarding the matter as he did not receive the phone when this correspondent called him.

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