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Work on irrigation plan stalled

Jorhat, Dec. 27: The delay in completion of an irrigation project on the Athubhonga rivulet, fed by the Tocklai and Tarajan rivers to the north-west of Jorhat, is affecting 300 hectares of paddy cultivation and a fishery project in the area.

No work has taken place on the Rs 4-crore project that began three years ago, in the past year.

Pisciculturist Montu Bora, on whose proposal the irrigation department had initiated the scheme, said since March 2011, no work had been done on the project, which was almost 80 per cent done.

In February 2011, the then assistant executive engineer in-charge of the project, Sanjib Borthakur, had told The Telegraph that this was the fastest flow irrigation project to be completed in record time — in just about six months — although there was time till 2013.

The reason for the fast progress was the people of the locality pitching in and working three shifts, aided by two generating sets providing power.

The flow irrigation scheme will be using a natural divergence vis-ŕ-vis four sluice gates and there will be no extra cost, as electricity will not be used.

However, these sluice gates have not been put into place so that the water can run into the network of canals dug through the area.

Work came to a standstill soon after and what has been put up is either rusting or being stolen.

Montu Bora’s dream of putting in place a fishery project based on the Andhra Pradesh model of fisheries where excess water let off from the irrigated fields would water his and other fish farmers’ ponds is also incomplete.

His wait for the non-acidic water of the Athubhonga river, which is also rich in nutrients for fish, seems to be never ending.

The project proposed to adapt the model to his fisheries in a bid to increase output especially during the winter months when the volume of water decreases in the ponds.

At present, the 12 bighas of waterbodies, in which he breeds the fish, is being filled by pumping the water from the river, which is an costly affair.

“In a region where fish is imported from outside despite the state having plenty of water, this is a shame. If the government would put into place more such flow irrigation schemes after identifying these areas there would be a manifold increase in fish production. However, they have not been able to complete even one scheme,” Bora said.

Pabitra Ingti, sub-divisional officer in-charge of the project, said the contractor had been contacted and asked to take up the work and finish it before March 2013.

“The contractor had told us that because of the rains and the harvesting of paddy in the fields, work had to be stopped but we have asked him to finish the work soon,” he said.


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