Delayed access road construction hinders progress of Nu 50 M worth Sershong irrigation water scheme

As paddy transplantation is around the corner, farmers of four villages in Zhemgang’s Trong Gewog are awaiting the completion of the Sershong irrigation water scheme. Earlier this month, the Zhemgang district administration terminated the contractor for not completing the access road to the Sershong water source on time. The district plans to complete the scheme within this year. 

People in Trong Gewog have been struggling to grow crops due to inadequate irrigation water facilities. Acres of paddy fields have been left fallow.

Despite this, the farmers continue farming on a small scale, awaiting the arrival of the Sershong irrigation water.

“I am hopeful that the Sershong irrigation water will finally arrive this time. Even if it does not, we are still going ahead with the transplantation. With the water, we can grow various crops including vegetables all year round,” said  Jambay, a farmer of Trong Gewog.

“We are facing water problems here as the contractors keep changing delaying the progress of the irrigation construction. Tingti Pam’s paddy fields are crucial for us as all of the Trong relies on rice cultivation. However, due to water scarcity, many fields remain fallow. Last year, four households could not plant crops due to this issue despite preparing their fields,” said  Ugyenla,  another farmer of Trong Gewog.

“We finished planting paddy seedlings but we heard the contractor has been terminated. So, the construction work will be further delayed. We are not happy with this news. Nevertheless, we will continue with our farming, depending on the seasonal rainfall and hoping for the best,” said Chompayla, also a farmer of Trong Gewog.

Lack of irrigation water has forced farmers to leave some 20 acres of paddy fields fallow.  Their only irrigation water source started to dry some 20 years ago.

“We clear bushes twice a year, in winter and summer, hoping for water to come to our fields. If it does not, we have no choice but to buy imported rice. I am not sure when irrigation water will reach our fields. The work started five to six years ago,” added Ugyen La.

The formation cutting of an almost 20-kilometre access road to the Sershong water source started in 2021 and was supposed to be completed by the end of 2022.

However, due to poor progress and missed deadlines, the district authority terminated the contract works.

The district tendering committee has awarded the work to a new contractor and is set to resume soon.

Once completed, the Nu 50 M worth of water scheme will benefit nearly 260 households in Trong Gewog.

It is also expected to revive fallow land, encourage farmers to venture into vegetable production and solve the drinking water shortage in Zhemgang town.

Pema Samdrup, Zhemgang  

Edited by Sonam Pem

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