Nangarhar’s key canal on the verge of destructionBy Abdul Mueed Hashmi Feb 19, 2012 - 15:25
JALALABAD (PAN): The Nangarhar Valley Development Authority (NVDA) on Sunday said a key major canal in the eastern province, irrigating thousands of acres of land, was on the verge of destruction due to the agriculture ministry’s apathy.
Work on the 71-kilomentre canal was launched in 1985 and completed in 1972 with financial support from the former Soviet Union, NVDA Director Director Ziarat Gul Rahil told Pajhwok Afghan News.
Up to 11,000 hectares of government-owned land -- including four huge orchard of citrus and olive -- and 14,000 hectares of privately-owned land is irrigated by the water channel in Surkhrod, Behsud, Batikot, Ghanikhel and Momand Dara districts.
Rahil said the canal burst its banks and a huge quantity of the water leaked through cracked walls as a result of silting. The canal had not been cleansed over the past many years due to lack of interest on the part of the ministry concerned.
“After the collapse of the Dr. Najibullah government, no desilting drive has been carried out and 28 gates of the channel have not been repaired so far. Thirty-nine flour mills have been constructed on it illegally,” he added.
In the past, the canal would provide 50 cubic metres of water per second, but now the level has fallen to 30 cubic metres per second, according to the official, who said: “Since the canal has a vital role in the development of agriculture in Nangarhar, there is an urgent need for $500,000 to clean and repair it.”
Momand Dara district development council head, Darya Khan, complained most of their crops had gone dry due to water scarcity because some people had illegally established flour mills on the canal in Batikot and Ghanikhel districts.
Agriculture ministry spokesman, Majeed Qarar, said besides repairing the cannel, they planned to carry out some other mega projects in the province.
The government had received $75 million from donors and $25 million would be spent through the agriculture ministry, as much through the Ministry of Water and Energy and the rest through the Rural Rehabilitation and Development Ministry (RRDM) on development schemes.