By Thakur Prasad Acharya,Beni, Mar. 13: A dispute has surfaced between the locals of Beni Municipality and Baglung Municipality over a water source, leading to an acute shortage of drinking water at Ratnechaur in Ward No. 1 of Beni for three days.
The dispute arose after a decision was taken to divert the water from the source, on which Ratnechaur locals have been relying on for years, to Baglung Municipality.
The dispute deepened further after Baglung Municipality destroyed two water tanks constructed at Kamere in Ward No. 5 of Baglung to bring water to Ratnechaur.
"Ratnechaur locals have been depending on the water source since 1966.
Now, Baglung Municipality destroyed the tanks constructed by Ratenchaur locals and started diverting the drinking water without consulting with us," said Tek Bahadur Thapa, ward chairman of Ward No. 1 of Beni Municipality.
Baglung Municipality has started distributing the water from the same source to Upallochaur Bazaar in Ward No. 4.
"There is a shortage of drinking water in the village for three days. There is no alternative source to bring water to Ratnechaur.
It is unethical and wrong to stop Ratnechaur locals from accessing drinking water from the source," said Thapa.
According to Tik Bahadur Mahat, secretary of Kamere Drinking Water Management Committee, a similar incident had occured in 1997 when Baglung locals came to capture the drinking water source.
"The locals of Ratnechaur had protested following which Baglung locals returned.
After the recent actions of Baglung Municipality, Ratnechaur villagers have been without water," said Mahat.
After destroying the two water tanks constructed by Ratnechaur locals, Baglung Municipality is constructing a new tank for themselves.
On Saturday, hundreds of villagers from both sides gathered near the water source.
A clash erupted when Ratnechaur locals tried to destroy the under-construction tank.
But Nepal Police personnel dispersed the crowd and avoided the unwanted incident.
People of Ratnechaur have demanded that the construction should stop until a new agreement is reached.
Meanwhile, Baglung Municipality’s Deputy Mayor Raju Khadka said that there was no other alternative to them, and they decided to use the source of their territory.
"We are not trying to keep all the water for ourselves. Our main motive is sharing. We are taking steps to use 42 per cent of the water and provide the remaining 58 per cent to Ratnechaur locals," said Khadka.
Local representatives from both sides said that they were holding talks to solve the problem at the earliest.