Choki Wangmo | Dagana

Constructed at the cost of Nu 16.9 million (M), an irrigation canal from Thangna to Pangna in Drujeygang, Dagana, remains idle.

The 12km irrigation canal is covered in dense thickets today.

The canal was expected to benefit more than 130 households in Thangna, Boodepang-Pangna, and part of upper Pangserpo chiwogs.

First started in the early 1980s by local residents, the formal canal construction was completed between 2018 and 2019, but there is no water running through the canal, leaving most of the agricultural fields fallow. Some farmers depend on rainwater for cultivation.

Villagers said that despite huge project costs, they did not irrigate their land even once after the canal construction was completed.

Despite the presence of other water sources around, it was not directed into the canal

They claimed that rather than benefitting, rainwater collected in the canal overflowed in monsoon, washing away land.

Residents blamed the contractor who did not follow the initial drawing and made mistakes in canal alignment.

At the site, it was found that the improper drain slope of the canals didn’t allow the natural flow of water. Ironically, despite the presence of other water sources around the canal, it was not directed into the canals.

Thangna tshogpa Ugyen Lhendup, said that the mistake was evident in the initial phase of the project from where a concrete canal was connected to the source. “If we use pipelines instead of concrete drains, the water would flow.”

Of the 12km, the initial five kilometre is concrete, after which the remaining canal was joined by pipelines or dug-up canals. In between, about 400m of pipelines were used as part of the maintenance project.

Residents claimed that at certain points, pipelines were installed within concrete canals, which was not only expensive, but unnecessary.

The water source is located about three hours walk from Thangna chiwog.

The canals were clogged with leaves and other forest materials. Pipelines had disjoined at several points.

A farmer, Tandin Wangchuk, was preparing his field for paddy cultivation. He was using a private water source. “We have to grow our own food. We cannot wait for this failed project to start our cultivation.”

However, many farmers are waiting for interventions from the dzongkhag administration.

“We can modify the alignment, but we would need resources and labour,” tshogpa Ugyen Lhendup said.

Many farmers are worried that the water source would dry up.

They claimed that they even formed a group and collected Nu 300 for maintenance earlier.

According to the accountant of the group, the money collected is currently saved with the banks.

Dagana dzongkhag’s principal engineer, Jamyang Dorji, said that the dzongkhag had handed over the completed project to the communities three years ago.

“The communities wanted the canal until Yonsibji, but the budget allocated was sufficient to construct the canal until Pangna chiwog. “I have suggested them to propose the budget in the next Plan.”

He said that the communities wanted budget for drilling a water source from a cliff, which is beyond the budget available.

Further, he added that all irrigation canals in the dzongkhag are functional.