In 2016, farmers of Tseza gewog, Dagana were happy when they were told an irrigation canal would be constructed in the gewog.
The gewog grows paddy and water was a problem, all year round. Last year, the contractor handed over the 4km irrigation canal to the dzongkhag.
This changla (transplantation season), farmers found out that water is not reaching their fields. There was something wrong with the alignment of the canal. Tseza gewog’s mangmi, Rickey, said that after several visits to the construction area, they wrote to the dzongkhag about the poor quality of the canal. “We were not shown the drawing plan of the canal.”
He said that the canal’s alignment was uneven at some area, which hindered the flow of the water. The mangmi has some basics of engineering. “It shows there was failure in the execution of the plan. In a working irrigation canal, water flows from the highest point to the lowest,” he said.
Farmers said that the canal was also not connected to the bigger water source in accordance to the survey conducted.
Rickey said that the irrigation canal would have benefitted about 45 households. “Farmers require water all year round, but it is needed most during paddy plantation time.”
He said that most farmers depended on paddy cultivation in the gewog. “With almost 90 percent of households depending on the farming activities, people in the village were looking forward to having continuous water supply.”
Farmers in the gewog are unhappy, if not angry.
A farmer from Tshanglaykha, Tandin, said that due to the faults in the construction of the canal, their fields were dry. “Our place is fertile and whatever we plant grows well here but most fields were dry, which could hamper the yield later.”
He said having an irrigation canal would not only help farmers but also benefit the community in times of disaster such as a fire.
Sources said the irrigation canal would have benefitted four villages in the gewog. They say the irrigation construction began at the end of 2017 and completed in August last year.
Dzongkhag engineer, Jamyang Dorji, said that the contractor was given almost eight months for rectification works. “Although the quality of the work was good, there was a problem in the alignment.”
He said the irrigation canal alignment had problems at 500ms away from the source when they investigated the problem.
The contractor is punished. He is now banned from participating in other works in the dzongkhag.
Jamyang Dorji said the dzongdag, along with the officials, visited the site two times before it was completed. “The irrigation canal is actually designed in a way that would allow other tributaries to feed the canal beside the main source called Karilum.”
During the handing-taking around August (nobody recalls the exact date) last year, the water test wasn’t conducted. Jamyang Dorji said that it was not done, as there was no water in the source during the time of the inauguration. “As the structure had been just completed, we couldn’t run it. We can only run water after 28 weeks of the construction. Otherwise the water could damage the structure.”
He said that after the termination of the contractor, the dzongkhag officials visited the site and identified the problem. “Now that we know exactly what the problem is, we can rectify the works by the end of the month if the weather is favourable.”
He said that the water would reach the fields by the end of the month. The 10 percent of the contractor’s payment which amounts to about Nu 570,000 would be used for the realignment works.
Tseza gup, Phurba, said that the gewog administration didn’t take up the remaining works, as the amount wouldn’t be enough. During the handing-taking of the completion of the work, the gewog’s representatives weren’t present. Although dzongkhag officials said they informed about it, tshogpas and mangmi said that they weren’t informed.
A farmer from Trashigang village, Kinley Dorji, said that the situation has been worse this year. “We depend on rainwater here. We have been waiting for the canal since last year. Our paddy is dying in the heat.”
He said the fields need a continuous supply of water but it’s dry now. “Most people look for water from other sources and depend on the old irrigation canal on rainy days.”
He said that the farmers in Zamtog and Tshanglaykha do not have access to irrigation water in the gewog.
The irrigation project is worth about Nu 10.1 million.
Rinchen Zangmo | Dagana