Hajin locals demand timely desilting of canals to save crops

Bandipora: As the agricultural season concludes, the residents of Hajin town in north Kashmir’s Bandipora district are urging the district administration to initiate the desilting process for irrigation canals. They expressed concerns about difficulties in irrigating paddy fields during the upcoming season in March-April 2024 unless prompt action is taken.
Farmers in the region expressed their frustration, saying that the Irrigation and Flood Control Department has neglected the desilting of irrigation canals for the past two decades. Last year, residents took matters into their own hands, as the department failed to carry out the necessary desilting, they said.
The farmers told Kashmir Reader that despite assurances that the desilting process would commence once the paddy season concludes this year, it has yet to start.
Ghulam Nabi, a farmer, said this is the opportune time for desilting, as undertaking the process becomes challenging once water begins to flow through the canals.
He said that a significant portion of agricultural land, comprising thousands of paddy fields, remained unproductive this year due to the negligence in cleaning the Bonikhan irrigation canal, the primary source for irrigating their fields.
Accumulated silt obstructs the free flow of water, causing substantial losses in rice production, he added.
While a small section of the irrigation canal was cleaned initially, the process was abruptly halted by the department, leaving the farmers in distress. The farmers said they have repeatedly raised this critical issue with the concerned department, but their pleas have gone unanswered.
Sajad Ahmad, a local, said that Hajin has traditionally been a major producer of quality rice in the valley. However, due to rain deficit and choked irrigation canals, there has been a significant decline in rice production this year, resulting in substantial losses for farmers, he said, adding that due to non-desilting of the stream from Anzkhud to Bonikhan, one area remains submerged and farmers of another area are striving to get irrigation water for their fields .
Residents said that desilting is the only viable solution to this predicament and could permanently resolve the issue. They have appealed to the Deputy Commissioner Bandipora to personally intervene and address this pressing matter.
ADDC Bandipora Mohammad Ashraf Hakak assured that he would look into the matter and engage with the concerned authorities to address the urgent need for desilting.

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