Drametse water dispute hearings underway

Seeking justice: Villagers heading for the first hearing
Seeking justice: Villagers heading for the first hearing

More than thirty people from Bikhar and Wungkhar villages in Drametse gewog, and those from Narang gewog, have started attending hearings on water disputes between the two gewogs in Mongar district court from July 8.

Thirty-seven households of Bikhar and Wungkhar in Drametse, Mongar, lodged a complaint against people of Narang gewog for cutting their drinking water pipes on March 18.

They had earlier reported the matter to officials of both gewogs, who instructed those in Narang to restore the pipes within a week. Narang villagers also agreed and replaced with new pipes, and the case was initially resolved on March 27.

However, Drametse villagers decided to take the matter to court, after they were displeased with the decisions officials from two gewogs had made. They also felt gewog officials drew up an agreement without consulting with people of Bikhar and Wungkhar.

On April 16, 26 people of Bikhar and Wungkhar villages travelled to Mongar to lodge a complaint with the police, but were asked to hold on until the council election ended. They then filed a petition on June 1 with the Mongar district court.

Drametse people said it was out of malice that Narang people intentionally cut the water pipes. They said it is government property, and damaging it was equivalent to committing a crime, which could lead to more serious things in future.

Statements to court also said the culprits were not ordinary people, but the gewog’s mangmi and tshogpa (representative).
Drametse people said that only four households in Narang were using the Semchenmo ree (water stream) as the source and that it was sufficient to share the water.

The people of Narang, however, argued that they warned them beforehand against tapping water from the particular source. They said that villagers of Semchenmo were left without any drinking water, after they connected their pipes to the source.

Narang people said they were using water from the source during their grandparents’ time, and that it was unfair for Drametse people to take over.

Bikhar, they said, had enough water sources before encroaching their source, which meant they were taking advantage of Narang villagers. While gewog officials were informed, they said, they didn’t care to throw a glance at the paper they submitted.

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