Irrigation: A rehabilitated irrigation channel that will cover the Lawa-Thaphu village in Athang is expected to be completed within the next two months.

The rehabilitated channel will benefit 18 households.

Lawa tshogpa, Tshering Dorji, said the new irrigation channel would not only save time and hard work as the wooden irrigation water channel had to be repaired and replaced every year but would also provide people with longer lasting system that will provide adequate water.

He explained that traditionally drains were dug into the dirt and used to irrigate their fields. However, with water drying up people started to use wooden water channels fitted on timber poles.

But such a system required repair and replacement every year and every household had to contribute labour for seven days. Despite the repairs, water leakage still occurred resulting in inadequate water supply

Athang gewog administration officer, Parladh Mahat said the renovation of 1.76km Lawa-Thaphu irrigation channel is being carried out at an estimated cost of Nu 2.3M (million) and is expected to help cultivate 106.75 acres of both wet and dry land. It is the third irrigation project in Athang gewog funded by the Remote Rural Community Development Project II.

He said the project has helped in renovation of two irrigation channels prior, the Kago irrigation channel, which is about 1.7km and the Yundu irrigation channel that is 5km. Both the projects were completed within four months.

The Kago irrigation channel benefits 14 households and helps cultivate 18.98 acres of both dry and wet land. The Yundu irrigation channel benefits 17 households and cultivates 53.76 acres of land. The two irrigation projects were completed with costs of Nu 1.5M and Nu 1.7M.

The gewog administration officer said the irrigation projects are farmer managed community irrigation schemes and support includes rehabilitation of existing schemes. The main objective of the project is to enhance agriculture production and create income generating opportunities in the project area through improved access to irrigation water.

He said that earlier, there were irrigation schemes in the Kago and Jarogang villages but the scheme is in bad condition.

Although the irrigation water shortage issue had been raised by the people the budget ceiling limitation had prevented the gewog from including it in its normal development plan. “Whatever fund provided in one fiscal year is hardly enough to renovate one scheme,” Parladh Mahat said.

By Dawa Gyelmo, Wangdue