Pelling, the second most popular tourist destination after its main capital Gangtok is experiencing severe water scarcity, especially during the peak tourist season. The high demand for water during this time requires frequent and substantial supplies. This shortage adversely affects hoteliers, restaurant owners, and the tourism industry. Additionally, with the growing tourism sector, the increasing number of accommodation units raises concerns about meeting the escalating water demand and addressing the existing water scarcity challenges in the area. Moreover, the water problem in Pelling is expected to worsen due to anticipated population growth, increasing tourist numbers, and rising water demands.
The problem extends beyond Pelling, with other tourist locations in the state experiencing similar water scarcity challenges.
Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim, has also been grappling with a drinking water crisis, resulting in long queues of people fetching water from tankers at the New Market.[i]
Pelling primarily relies on water sources such as the Changey Waterfalls and the Darap/Nambu road. However, there is a charge of Rs. 60 per tank (4000 litres) for water. Additionally, the truck supplier imposes a fee of Rs. 1500 to transport the water.
This financial burden makes it challenging for many residents to afford water, prompting them to collect water from nearby streams using closed buckets. Some individuals even travel to neighbouring villages, covering 2 to 4-km distances, for laundry and fetching water.
An ongoing water project is underway to combat the water problem in Pelling that aims to alleviate the water scarcity issue and cater to the needs of the residents, businesses, and the expanding tourism industry in the area.
Pema Choden Bhutia is a Research Scholar at Madras Institute of Development Studies, Chennai. Her research interests include tourism, ecotourism, environmental valuation techniques and tourist preferences.
Email: [email protected]
[i] Pradhan. (2023, April 24). Gangtok reels under acute water shortage. The Statesman. Retrieved May 13, 2023, from https://www.thestatesman.com/cities/siliguri/gangtok-reels-under-acute-water-shortage-1503174969.html