Residents go around requesting another village to share their irrigation water  

On July 11, Karma Galley, 26, from Pangthang village in Kanglung went door-to-door requesting people of Thragom village to share their irrigation water.

“We were running short of time and we could not leave our land fallow like others,” he said. “It is very difficult convincing people but then there is no other option for us.”

Karma Galley succeeded in getting the water but his work was far from done.

He had to ensure ‘water robbers’ do not steal his water into their fields, a practice that is rampant in the village.

“There are people who divert the water into their fields as the water flows down,” Karma Galley said. “We have to constantly monitor the volume of the water.”

Another villager, Tashi Wangdi, said he has been guarding the water source for more than 20 years now. “Without a concrete canal, it is easy to divert the water from between and direct it to their own fields,” he said.

They are not alone.

Racing against time, a group of farmers in Pangthang are busy transplanting their paddy.

The farmers are worried that if the transplantation delays by one more week, their harvest would be affected.

Farmers say this is not the first time they are facing irrigation water shortage. They have been living with it for almost 15 years now.

The village’s only irrigation source located some 6km away at Bunthai in Khangma has almost dried up.

The irrigation canal from the source was first built in the early 90s, where the people in Ritsangdung-Pangthang chiwog benefitted from the source for almost 12 years.

With growing population and mushrooming of regional and corporate institutions near the source, residents started using the same source for drinking purposes.

Following the drying up of the source, an alternative source at Shingtsedrang was identified but with limited water, villagers in the chiwog had to depend on rainwater for irrigation.

Karma Galley said that with rainfall becoming erratic, they had to rely on people of Thragom to share their water during times of paddy transplantation.

He said that a water tank near the Shingtsedrang source could help solve the shortage of irrigation water in the village. “Even if the source is small, if we could store the water in a tank, the problem might subside.”

Shortage of irrigation water has resulted in farmers opting for maize cultivation over paddy today. More than 20 acres of paddy fields are left fallow in Tsushing, Gorthung and Kharza. These villages were once fully dependent on the lone water source in Bunthai.

Karma Galley said that more than a thousand acres of paddy fields in lower Pangthang have turned into forest following the irrigation water shortage in the village.

Tshogpa of the chiwog, Tashi Namgay, said residents have approached him on several occasions to report the issue. “The problem of irrigation water shortage is one of the major concerns for the chiwog,” he said. “The gewog has informed the authorities concerned.”

Younten Tshedup | Kanglung