JAMUGURIHAT, Sept 30 � Installed with an objective to irrigate the cultivable fields in Sonitpur district, 36 medium and small irrigation schemes were established some years back.
Out of these, only six schemes are presently functioning, that too by fits and starts, while all the other 28 are now in a defunct state. There are a total of 434 employees in the district, including executive engineers. Not surprisingly, they are drawing their salaries by sitting at home as the schemes have become totally non-functional.
Moreover, NABARD and ARIASP had also provided 6,023 shallow tubewells to the State Agriculture Department in order to irrigate the fields, but out of these, 1,202 shallow tubewells are reportedly missing, it is learnt.
The Mornoi-Ghiladhari lift irrigation scheme was launched in the 80s and this scheme was successful in irrigating many fields in the Chatiya area, but due to negligence and lack of foresight of the departmental authorities, this important and useful scheme became defunct. No steps to repair this scheme has been taken up by the department.
The Bordikorai irrigation scheme was launched in 1975 in the Bordikorai river along the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border at a cost of several crores of rupees in order to irrigate the fields of Jamuguri and Chatiya.
But the devastating floods of 2004 completely destroyed the project. An amount of Rs 47 crores had been sanctioned by the Central Government to repair the scheme. But no proper repair had been undertaken, and most of the allotted amount was reportedly siphoned off by the officers and contractors of the department. A few officers were subsequently suspended, while some contractors were black-listed. Further, summons were issued aganst some of the contractors to appear in the court.
Significantly, in the name of repair, some drains were repaired unnecessarily, though these drains never carried water to the fields. It is observed that the upper portion of these drains were cleared of grass and lower portion turfed with concrete, just to spend the money, and not to optimise the benefit of the scheme.
The above is just an example of how the irrigation schemes are functioning in Sonitpur district by spending crores of rupees, primarily for the benefit of the officers and contractors of the department, and not for the benefit of the poor farmers.