Hill Voice, 24 June 2020, Rangamati: Sajek, the largest union in Bangladesh, faces various crises throughout the year. A few days ago, 10 children have died due to measles. The number of victims is about 659. Adding to this is the drinking water crisis.
Rangamati district with an area of 6116.13 sq km has the only artificial Kaptai lake in the country covering 725 sq km. Although there is no drinking water problem in this lake area, but there is an acute shortage of drinking water in the rest of the area in the district.
Due to its geographical location, it is one of the most inaccessible areas in Bangladesh and hence stream or spring water is the only source of drinking water for the common people of this area.
The local Jumma people collect their drinking water from the springs, but these springs dry up in the summer. When these sources dry up in the summer, the water problem intensifies. And when it starts raining heavily during the monsoon season, the water in the springs and streams becomes cloudy and unsuitable for drinking.
According to the Sajek Union Parishad, about 30,000 people in the entire union are in dire need of clean water. In the meantime, the public health department has announced various plans to solve the problem.
Mangal Charan Chakma, a permanent resident of Sajek Machalang Bazar, said that water from streams and spring is available in winter. However, in the rainy season, the water of these sources becomes turbid. As a result, rain water became our only hope. So, the people of the whole Sajek Union have been suffering from water problems for a long time in the summer.
Fules Karbari, General Secretary of Sajek Machalang Bazar, said the springs dry up with the onset of summer and become muddy during the rainy season. This exacerbates the problem of drinking water. Many times, locals have to walk a few kilometers to collect water. However, by drinking this water, many people are getting infected with various water borne diseases.
Nelson Chakma, Chairman of the Sajek Union of Baghaichhari, said there were drinking water problems in the entire Sajek Union. In some areas it is possible to build deep tubewells at a cost many times more than the allotted amount, but in most areas it is not possible due to stones and inaccessibility.
In the crisis of drinking water, Jumma people in remote areas are being affected by various water borne diseases. Many are dying due to lack of treatment.
Biplob Chakma, Executive Director of Rangamati Ashika Development Associates, said water purification tablets and water containers have been distributed to 700 families in the remote Sajek area with the help of two donor agencies. If necessary, I will stand by their side again.
Meanwhile, Baghaichhari Upazila Nirbahi Officer Ahsan Habib (Jitu) said that some senior officials of the Ministry of Water Resources had recently visited Sajek to solve the water problem. Work is underway on how to conserve fountains and rainwater for drinking. If this is implemented, Sajek will no longer have water problems.
Anupam Dey, Executive Engineer of Department of Public Health of Rangamati, said that although tenders were issued for the work of clean water, no one took part in the tender due to problems in transporting construction materials in remote areas. We have started working to solve the problem of drinking water in a different way. A few areas have been chosen as pilot projects. If the pilot project is successful, there will be no more drinking water problems in remote areas like Sajek.