Some farmers have alleged that they were not consulted on the location of the reservoir

Irrigation: A water reservoir tank that was built to help irrigate paddy fields of six households in Tachoekha village in Tshogwom gewog has failed one year after its completion.

The reservoir tank was constructed with gewog development grant of Nu 300,000 in 2014 and completed by early 2015. The work was awarded to one of the six landowners in the area, Namgay.

Ngwang Dorji, another landowner blamed the gewog and Namgay for constructing the reservoir in the wrong place.

“Since we couldn’t get irrigation water from a source called Rathang, we proposed for a reservoir tank near a spring above the paddy fields of six landowners in Tachoekha,” said Namgay Dorji.

However, when the work was awarded to Namgay, he constructed it on a different location from the initial proposed site, and it was approved by the gewog, according to Ngawang Dorji. The place where the reservoir was constructed does not have any water source. When the tank was handed over to the gewog there was only around 10 percent water. Despite this, the gewog took over the tank, he said.

Ngawang Dorji added that not only has government money been wasted, the other landowners have had to leave their fields fallow as a result. Except for Namgay, the other landowners could not cultivate a single paddy field, said Ngawang Dorji who owns one and half acres of paddy field at Tachoekha village. He has left his fields fallow since last year.

“We want to know how the gewog has approved the change of construction site, without even informing the other landowners,” said Ngawang. “We are worried because we can’t re-approach the government for a new reservoir.” As per the rules, such tanks should be used for at least 15 years.

Daw, 78, another landowner said he too had to leave his fields fallow. The reservoir  intended to benefit six households is ineffective, he said. He accused Namgay for purposefully constructing the tank in the wrong location.

However, Namgay refuted the allegations and said the reservoir was not constructed above the paddy fields as the land belongs to him and also the land was not found feasible for a reservoir when inspected by the gewog engineer. He added that when the reservoir was proposed no specific location was mentioned.

The existing reservoir used to have two sources above it, said Namgay. The gewog site engineer and local leaders approved it for construction after conducting a survey. On completion of the construction, the tank was handed over to the gewog and filled with water. “We used the water to transplant our entire paddy field last year,” he said.

However, this year it has dried up due to prolonged dryness and also because one source was disturbed by road construction, while the other source dried up, he said.

Tshogwom Gup Sangay said the reservoir was proposed and approved with an undertaking letter signed by all six landowners. However, the document does not have any area designated for the construction.

He said the construction of the reservoir tank was approved since it was above the fields. If the water sources above the tank have dried up, there is nothing the gewog can do, the gup said. The landowners are brining up the issue one year after the completion of the tank. He said the villagers had not written to the gewog or informed the chiwog during the time of construction or recently.

Except for Namgay, none of the landowners even participated during the survey of the reservoir tank or during construction, said the local leader.

Dawa Gyelmo | Wangdue