English | Dzongkha Wednesday, December 11, 2019

An irrigation canal where water doesn’t flow in Tseza Gewog

Namgay Wangchuk, Dagana
Aug 14, 2019

This is a time where paddy fields need plenty of water but farmers of Tseza Gewog in Dagana are still depending on the rainwater since the Karilum Irrigation channel failed to provide its service after a yearlong handing taking.

The 4-kilometre irrigation channel remains dry and farmers blame it on construction lapses. Initially, 6-kilometre irrigation channel works were surveyed with a cost estimate of over Nu 12 M. However, with budget deficit works for 4-kilometer was allotted to the contractor. Since most of the majority works were completed in August last year, the dzongkhag administration took over the project from the contractor with the condition that rectification works identified during the handing taking have to be completed within three months. The contractor accordingly completed the minor rectification works.

But the Irrigation canal is yet not functional. In another visit to the site by the officials found another 200-meter long channel alignment fault.

“With understanding, water should flow from the source towards the destination but the works were started from the destination towards the source. That’s how it did not reach the main source. I believe it is the contractor and the engineer’s lapses. That’s how we are not benefited from the irrigation. The alignment is drastically wrong; this is what I observed in visiting the site,” said Tandin, from Tseza Gewog in Dagana.

“Three villages in our gewog have an acute water shortage. We left the majority of our lands fallow. However two years ago we have started to cultivate those fallow lands without water. By then we were happy and hopeful that the construction works for irrigation channel was underway. We thought it would benefit us all but it is otherwise. Even after its completion, it has not catered us even a liter of water,” shared Rinzin Lhendup from the same gewog.

“The quality of the works is compromised. Secondly, according to the survey the main source has enough water, but when they started the works they started from the opposite direction. With this, they couldn’t reach the main source. When the minor sources are small it was not able to push the water and moreover, the alignment of the drain is not maintained. In some cases the base of the channel is also not properly concreted thus leaking the water,” added Rickey, the Mangmi of the gewog.

Meanwhile, the dzongkhag consulted the gewog administration to explore community contracting of the realignment and rectification works. But no community contractors volunteered to do so as they claim that the budget for rectification work is very limited. Now the dzongkhag will carry out the task departmentally which is expected to complete by the end of this month. Yet the work is still not started.

Once the channel is functional it will be handed over to the beneficiaries. Until then farmers would have to depend on rain for better yield. There are over 5000 acres of wetland, which are drying up without a proper irrigation today. Earlier with the help of continuous rain, almost 70 per cent of the paddy was cultivated but now as the weather pattern changed in recent days, farmers are worried. Rice is their main source of income and staple diet.

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