BARPETA, March 22 - Barpeta traditionally has been a district related to agriculture, but several farmers in the region have now abandoned their profession and are resorting to other sources of income � the reason being the lack of irrigation facilities.
Cultivators here lament that more than 90 per cent of the agricultural land lack irrigation, and wherever such facility exists, it is also irregular and does not serve the purpose.
The condition in the eastern areas of the district such as Paka, Sarukhetri, Betbari and Baosi Mouza is so pathetic that most of the fertile land has been lying vacant.
A few farmers who have cultivated their land have spent huge amounts in their electricity bills or for buying diesel for generator sets.
Farmers here say that it is not that the government has not planned irrigation facilities in the district. In the 1980s, deep tubewells were installed in several parts of East Barpeta, especially in Sarukhetri Mouza. The poor farmers there had dreamt of a good harvest by utilising these deep tubewells, but their hopes were shattered as not a single drop of water was delivered by the pumps.
An office of the Sub-Divisional Officer (SDO) Mechanical under the Irrigation Department was also established at Sarthebari for installing water pumps in agricultural fields, but there has been no development so far.
As the water pumps and deep tubewells have been lying idle for several years, and are also not being properly maintained, the irrigation equipment and the sheds housing them have gathered dust.
Following a demand from the public, some pumps were repaired in 2008-09, but these too are not functional.
Speaking to this correspondent, a number of farmers expressed their anguish over the negligence of the Irrigation Department and demanded the immediate repair of the water supply facilities as their livelihood depends on them.