Years of poor canal maintenance leave Shopian orchards without water

Years of poor canal maintenance leave Shopian orchards without water

SHOPIAN: Despite “hundreds of pleas” to officials of the Irrigation and Flood Control Department (IFCD), irrigation facilities have not been provided to a large tract of horticultural land at Safnagri and Wachi villages of south Kashmir’s Shopian district, orchardists there told Kashmir Reader.
“We don’t have any means to bring water to the orchards for spraying and irrigation purposes, which has resulted in the spread of many diseases. Many orchards have dried due to the lack of irrigation water,” said Javid Ahmad Dar, one of the orchardists in Safnagri village.
Orchards are the sole means of earning for most of the residents of the two villages. Locals said that the canal which was providing water to the area has developed damages at many places and the government has not taken up repair works for several years.
“Many years ago, the government started the repair works, but due to the use of sub-standard material the canal again developed damages and leaks. Hence, there are no irrigation facilities to this huge area of land,” Bilal Ahmad, another resident of Safnagri, said.
A Wachi resident, who asked not to be named, said that many people have dug wells for irrigation but they don’t provide the water to neighbouring orchardists, even if they are paid the charges.
“Our orchard, our sole source of income, is drying up. Due to non-availability of water, we delay the spraying of water. This in turn has caused multiple diseases in our apple orchards,” he said.
A group of orchardists while talking to Kashmir Reader appealed to the government to look into their problem so that they would not face a livelihood crisis.
“This is prime Kareva land, and the orchards’ survival is wholly and solely dependent on timely irrigation. We have even begged before the people who have dug wells, but they don’t give us even paid supplies,” said Ghulam Muhammad Sheikh, who was searching for a bore well owner to provide him water for spraying purposes.
Executive Engineer of the IFCD did not respond to repeated phone calls and text messages from this reporter.
Additional Deputy Commissioner Shopian Shabir Hussain Bhat could not be reached for comment.