Tourist season means brisk business for water trucks

Gangtok, 17 Jun:

Tourists are flowing into Gangtokfor some respite from the sweltering summer in the plains.While hotels are happy to be brimming with guests, they have to face many problems to meet the requirements especially water supply.

SummitTIMESasked some hoteliers in Gangtok how they ensure full time water supply to tourists staying in their hotels.

RajenChettri, who runs a hotel in Gangtok, said, “It's really difficult to manage water supply because the flow of tourists this time has gone upsharply. This time, tourists from Bangladesh have come in large numbers as restrictions have been eased to enter Sikkim since December last year.”

He has 15 rooms in his hotel and has been getting 35–40 tourists daily this season. The Public Health Engineering Department supplies water for around one hour daily which is not sufficient especially for the hotels.

“So we hire mini-trucks to bring water from natural sources in tanks. It costs Rs 3,000 to get a 4000litre water tank. The trucks are not allowed to park on the national highway during the day time. They come during the night after midnight and sometimes, it becomes morning by the time we finish replenishing our water tanks.

Another hotel manager,Bijon Manna, also spoke about similar water problems.

“There would be sufficient water if the PHE gave us water for a minimum of 2–3 hours daily [morning, afternoon and evening]. Only the PHE water supply is not sufficient and I have to buy water. Sometimes I send vehicles to fetch water from a natural source,” adds MrManna.

His hotel has seven rooms and around 20–25 tourists check into his hotel daily. He said the number of tourists have increased a lot in Sikkim this season.

Kumar Raisells water from natural sources like ManeyKhola of Bojoghari in his vehicle and delivers to hotels in Gangtok.

“This is the peak season and we are always in a rush to deliver water in 4000litre tanks to the hotels. There is no fixed timing. We deliver as and when we receive orders from the hotels. Onreceiving the call, we go to nearby streams and fill the tank full and then deliver the water at night or early in the morning. However, we have to finish delivering the water by 8 am in the morning and then move out of the highway,” says MrRai.

Demand for water goes up during May and June which is the peak tourist season, he says. They sometimes deliver water 2-3 times a day and other times there is no demand.

Earlier, there were around 9 water trucks, but now there are only 4, informed MrRai. He adds that some hotels have their own vehicles to bring water.

“People might think that charging Rs3000 for 4000litre tank of water is expensive. But it is hard work. We cannot enter the town during day timeso we have to work at night,” says MrRai. He has been in this business since 2012.