An irrigation scheme worth Nu 53 million to pump water from Pachhu to two chiwogs in Wangchang gewog, Paro has failed.
The project was completed in 2016.
The irrigation pipes are buried under thick undergrowth and the concrete reserve tank lies idle. Farmers are struggling to grow rice; villages in these chiwogs take turns to irrigate their land.
The scheme was expected to benefit more than 200 households of Nakha-Mendi and Chankar-Jangtena chiwogs.
Deki from Jangteyna village said that the government invested a huge amount for the irrigation scheme, which would have solved the water issue. “It has been five years now and the project is dead.”
Deki owns two acres of wetland but cultivates only one due to water scarcity. This year, she is growing five acres of rice as a sharecropper. “It is easier to work in five acres near the river.”
She said that the two chiwog’s water sources were drying and was not enough for more than 200 households.
More than 70 households have left the wetlands fallow and others have planted apple trees.
The two chiwogs have divided the stream into two parts and have made turns to irrigate the fields. The stream is connected to other villages only after completing paddy transplantation at Jangteyna.
According to locals, this has been the tradition because of shortage of water. Each household gets a day to water their field.
Another farmer, Phub Dorji from Nakha-Mendi chiwog, said that the locals could not convert wetlands to residential land. “We cannot build houses and cannot grow paddy. I can cultivate only two acres from five in Rona due to irrigation challenges.”
The problem with the irrigation scheme, villagers say, was poor work quality and lack of monitoring.
Another farmer Denka said that if the irrigation scheme was successful, the water tank could cater to other villages such as Changkar and Mendi. “The stream will be sufficient for upper villages.”
According to Nankha-Mendi tshogpa, Phuntsho, the gewog proposed a 900-metre canal and reserve tank in the 11th five-year plan considering significant challenges facing the community.
Wangchang gup, Kuenzang Rinzin, said that the gewog could not do anything as the case was with the Anti Corruption Commission.
He said that without clearing the audit memo, the gewog could not seek a budget from anywhere. “Audit officials have asked the gewog to collect the audited amount and invest the money in maintaining the canal. But if the audit cannot make the defaulter clear it, how can gewog do it?”
By Phub Dem | Paro
Edited by Jigme Wangchuk