Sunday, 23 December 2012

Water supply Kalimpong, Northern India

Water Supply Kalimpong...

All those fools who say the free market solves all problems should consider the calamity that is the Kalimpong water supply. Kalimpong is a hill town in the foothills of the Himalaya. It has a monsoon climate so it rains extremely hard from late June until September. Being on top of a hill there are problems of water storage. Water tanks have been built but there are too few and they are not sufficient. Those who can afford it (hotels and businesses) import water in large plastic tanks on the back of trucks. 

The residents and many small businesses rely on their own initiatives which produces a water supply system which is quite astonishing. This involves running a personal pipeline from a source further up the hill. All of these pipes then run alongside the road down the hill as can be seen here.

At times the pipes divert to run downhill into several properties.Unfortunately, because the pipes are exposed to the open air - and trucks, people, cars, bikes etc - they tend to leak - a lot. So even though water is scarce and precious the residents lose a lot. The supply is limited to a few minutes a day in the run up to the next monsoon.

Here pipes are lifted to go over a driveway - again putting pressure on joints and links. 

It is seen as normal and wherever a steady leak is running people gather with buckets and containers to collect whatever they can. 

At some point someone will come along and argue for a collective solution involving installing a water main and pipes running off to properties. But that will involve a co-operative approach and that is clearly anathema. So the madness continues. 

This is me signing off for a couple of days - have a good Christmas and should you be unfortunate enough to suffer from the downpours - consider Kalimpong.

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