English | Dzongkha Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Drying streams and inconsistent monsoon leaves villagers of Khatoedthang worried, Samdrup Jongkhar

Aug 23, 2021

At this time of the year, water should fill the paddy fields. But, instead, the fields in Khatoedthang in Phuentshogthang Gewog are dry, and cracks have opened up. 

Some of the villagers have left fields fallow owing to a lack of irrigation water.

Without adequate water, the 20 households in the village fear paddy planted will also dry up.

Villagers suspect a coal mine in the locality may be the cause of drying water.

“I can’t say it is due to mining or climate change, but what we feel is that after mining started, the water seeps more towards the mining site and less to our paddy fields,” said Til Bdr, Thapa, a villager.

However, the water did not dry up as soon as mining works started. Another villager Padam Lal Thapa said, “they operated for about two years, and slowly our water started drying up.”

Padam added that he left his fields fallow once villagers started arguing over the little water available.   

Others believe the mine expanding into the mountains may be causing water depletion. “Before the mining started, we used to have adequate water for irrigation,” said Ganga Ram, a villager. He is also blaming the erratic monsoon for the same problem.

Some villagers say they have depended on the monsoon to irrigate their fields for decades. “I depend on rainwater to cultivate paddy, and this year I could not cultivate paddy since the rainfall was less,” said Durga Prasad Adhikari, a villager.

Another villager, Tulsi Ram, says many are switching to maize cultivation due to insufficient water for paddy cultivation.

Meanwhile, the State Mining Corporation Limited says the coal mine has not affected any water source. The corporation added that the mining area does not directly impact the watershed area of the stream in the village.

For villagers in Khatoedthang, rice is not just for self-consumption, but they can make decent returns from selling it. This year, villagers worry they may have to buy rice.

Kinley Wangchuk, Samdrup Jongkhar

Edited by Sherub Dorji


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