Taruka village will foresee no dearth of water
Mr. Bernhard Hiller, a Swiss born national is a highly qualified and distinguished engineer by profession. He specifically studied water management, supply and distribution as the subject of his learning and, in the year 1973, succeeded receiving master’s degree from the technical high school of Switzerland which still continues to be the most reputed and acclaimed educational institution there. As a brilliant student he was that Mr. Hiller was offered various assignments to work in the field of his specialization. The span of his work stretched over to Moldova and between countries like Ukraine to Rumania where, he rigorously labored for 40 long years, with all his might, to explore water resources for the larger benefit to the civilian of those regions. He also spent three consecutive years starting from 1976 to 1979 to work as a volunteer in Nepal under Swiss Agency for development & co-operation. By now, though, Mr. Hiller is retired from the job yet, his spirit is high and, by sheer coincidence, he is currently in Nepal by the joint requests of Mr. Bernhard Buller and Mr. Mohan Lamsal – a tourism entrepreneur as well as Managing Director of Makalu Adventure. These two gentlemen have done tremendous job by building school premises at Taruka village in Nuwakot district. Now, they have vowed to build hospital and reinforce the existing water supply system to reach every householder in the village on the priority basis. So, essentially the long experience and the expertise of Mr. Bernhard Hiller is very much sought for and imminently required. Our correspondent Mr. Surendra Lohani had the privilege to have word with Mr. Hiller in regard to his assignment for water supply and here are the excerpts of the interview.
- If we may ask you, what prompted you to visit Nepal after long gap of time?
Well, I must say that it was Mr. Bernhard Buller, who has been instrumental in constructing school in Arubote of Taruka village of Nuwakote, prevailed upon me to do something to regenerate the drinking water supply for the villagers out there. In doing so, he also requested me to work in close co-ordination with Mr. Mohan Lamsal who is intimately connected with the village. It was my privilege to come to Nepal to do something from my capacity in the run up to help built sustainable water supply to the villagers of Aurobote.
- Why have you chosen Aurobote alone as a viable project?
Mostly, we give preference to a village or community which is relatively backward in relation to other better off places. Aurobote being situated in the remote area devoid of any facilities, obviously, priority have been given to it and, on top that, Mr. Buller had already built school and for that matter, in view of acute shortage of water in that areas, it was thought highly essential and imperative to make a sustainable water provision to the villagers in an effort to have complete package of infrastructures there.
- Do you see possibilities in generating drinking water enough to meet the requirement of the villagers there?
It does not mean that there is no water supply scheme as of now. The existing water catering system in Taruka has worn out in a deplorable state, ostensibly, for want of repair, maintenance and proper authoritative supervision. The central water tank is in the state of mess which has not been cleaned since thirty three years. So, the whole water project needs to be revamped and duly rejuvenated.
- So, then you are in the process of undertaking sort of feasibility study, in the first place?
No, the feasibility study, as such, has already been prepared by the team of Nepalese engineers, so to speak, but, sadly, in a very ordinary and simple bundle of papers which, I think, needs to be upgraded to look like an impressive and trustworthy project report, to be able to receive due attention from the donors or investors at the first sight. At the moment, we are working on the details of project report. The total estimate cost to run the project of water supply, as envisaged, comes to 20 million rupees which includes the re-scheduling the existing water pipes and other requisites. From my observation and scrutiny, there is no urgent necessity to replace the connecting pipes to escalate the overall cost as the same is in sound condition. So, my attempt is to bring down the estimated costs to a reasonable figure to enable and boost the donor’s enthusiasm in terms of investment to the proposed project.
- Where do you want to tap the water for the availability and reach to the householders?
Actually, the last year’s terrible earthquake in Nepal has left village to remain barren in the sense that water table has sunken down because of deep cracks in hinterland and the adjoining areas. Nevertheless, nature has provided spring water in the least affected areas. We are trying to tap such viable resources wherever they are and, by indulging into gravitational support system, at the best, we could supply water to the ward no. 1, 2 and 3 of Aurobote village through the existing pipes.
- Who, do you think, are going to be potential donors to the water project?
As you know, Swiss government and people have provided much help in the infrastructural building in the past including educational premises like in Taruka village. So, we are willing to help further. But, we expect also equal participation from Nepal government and people in general. We are still in the process of discussing with concerned government officials in relation to the modalities of funding and proportional investment mechanism to suit the very interest of the recipient in the village.
- Do you have any proposal to safeguard or protect the project, once complete, from the vagaries of Nature or from manmade disaster?
In the first place, there must be responsible officials to look after the project all the time. Meanwhile, a water guard must be deployed at the sight to help prevent any mishap occurring in the water tank. After all, water is our life; it should remain free from any hazard and, in a bid to keep it hygienic to the larger benefit of village community, proper vigilance and safeguard is absolutely essential. Although, there is a water committee in place yet, in terms of its role, does not appear effective or functional. It is highly imperative, therefore, that women in the village being highly sensitive in the procurement and management of water, they should represent in the committee to the extent of 50% vis-à-vis men. If this arrangement is made mandatory, applicable to all such water committees elsewhere as well, then with certainty, a right decision will follow to the advantages of the local water users. The other thing equally important is whether it is done by Nepal government or by the initiation of village Development Committee, that the awareness program in regard to the water use technique or its overall management for the sake of keeping it safe and sound should be launched from house to house. This is, basically, an educational drive to imprint into the mind and heart of entire people in the village that our survival is ensured only when we know the proper method to safeguard and save the water, even for our next generation. Hence, this effective mechanism to enlighten the people must be carried out in letter and spirit.