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Darjeeling water tanker wants three-day break for Dashain

Darjeeling water tanker wants three-day break for Dashain
Eighty tankers that supply water to homes and hotels in Darjeeling town will not operate from October 2-4 in the peak tourist season as the drivers want a three-day break for Dashain.

Dashain is the hill equivalent of Dussehra.

Kalu Subba, the president of Darjeeling Truck Chalak Sangathan, said: “Our drivers have decided not to operate tankers from October 2-4 as they want to celebrate Dashain with their families. This is not a strike but a collective decision taken by all the drivers.”

While some residents said they would be able to tide through the three-day break with stored water in their homes, hotel owners were not so sure.

Some hotel owners Metro spoke to said they would be able to supply water to guests for the first day of the break but they were sceptical about October 3 and 4.

Samir Singhal, the treasurer of the Janmukti Hotel Owners’ Association, said: “We will have a tough time at least for two days. We have no solution yet and will probably have to supply water in buckets to tourists.”

Singhal, who owns Hotel Sunflower at Chowrasta, said: “I have 15 rooms and since it is the peak tourist season, during which most of the rooms have been sold, I would need around 5,000 liters of water daily. I have a storage capacity of only 8,000-9,000 litres.”

A tanker supplies 6,000 litres of water. The water is brought from Rangbull and 3rd Mile areas, which are situated at a radius of about 12km from Darjeeling town. The trucks charge anything between Rs 800 to Rs 1,200 depending on the location of a hotel in the town.

The owner of a high-end hotel at Chowrasta, that he did not want identified, said: “We have 24 rooms and we need around 10,000 litres of water daily. Our storage capacity is about 15,000 litres.”

Most of the 300-odd hotels in Darjeeling are sold out between October 1 and 10. Even though the tourist season stretches till November-end, the rush is usually for these 10 days as they coincide with the Puja time, and another 10 days during Diwali.

“I guess we will have to hire other vehicles to ferry water. However, we are not sure whether other vehicles, such as pick-up vans, will want to carry water during the festival period as everyone will be celebrating. Moreover, many pick-up vans do not have water containers. We are at a loss. The only way out is to advise the tourists to use less water,” said a hotelier.

Darjeeling requires about 15-18 lakh gallons of water daily.

During the dry months — all months except the monsoon season — the municipality supplies only about 7-8 lakh gallons of water.

Residents and hoteliers have to turn to tankers — trucks with storage containers in the rear — to bridge the shortfall.

The Balasun water project is believed to be the answer to Darjeeling’s water woes.

The Rs 55.86 crore drinking water project, which was inaugurated by chief minister Mamata Banerjee on July 17 this year, however has not yet been completed.

Source: The Telegraph

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