Farmers of West Guwahati & Palasbari struggled in vain to repair broken cals as Irrigation minister painted rosy picture in Assembly
By Our Staff Reporter
Guwahati, Oct 25: On State government records, it is listed among the 214 fully operatiol irrigation schemes in Assam. But the virtually defunct Kopili Flow Irrigation Scheme located at Rani has been of little use to the farmers of West Guwahati and Palasbari constituencies who have been dependent on the monsoons since the last few years.
The project, conceived in 1966-67, was completed in 1975. It was supposed to irrigate 2,400 hectares of paddy fields in the villages of Dharampur, Kaharpara, Rangapara, Guimari and Bahupara in West Guwahati constituency and Tarapotilucha in Palasbari.
A spot visit by a team from The Sentinel found that most of the cals of the project lie broken. Some five years back, Irrigation department officials had initiated a plan to concretize the cals, but due to alleged corruption and sub-standard work, the repair works did not benefit the farmers. Today, the condition of the cals is even worse than what it was five years back.
The farmers in the area have been cultivating just one crop a year due to lack of irrigation facilities.
"We just cultivate the rabi (winter) crop. Though we have the irrigation scheme, we are not getting any water out of it. Even for the rabi crop, we have to make our own arrangements for irrigating the fields. If the scheme was operatiol, we could have cultivated two crops a year," rued Siddheswar Das, a farmer of Dharampur.
Earlier this year, the local farmers became alarmed after the monsoons failed in the initial months.
They requested local Irrigation department officials to repair the broken cals near Rani High School (Duvi) which were preventing the flow of water. But the officials turned their backs to the complaint.
The cultivators then tried to restore the scheme by stacking gunny bags alongside the cals to facilitate the flow of water, but that remedy worked only for a few days. However, the rain gods came to the rescue of the hapless farmers, with monsoon showers in the later part of the year ebling them to get good crop yields.
The farmers say the concept of the scheme is defective.
"The scheme draws water from the Kopili river. It can feed the fields only for two to three months, so long as the waters of the Kopili stand at a certain level. Once the level goes down, the cals too dry up," said another farmer.
Ironically, the Irrigation minister had stated in the recent assembly session that the Kopili irrigation scheme is fully functiol.