Kandahar gardens, farmlands parched by water shortage
KANDAHAR CITY (Pajhwok): Farmers and gardeners from several districts of southern Kandahar province are worried water shortages could leave their crops parched. While some of the towns are going without water, others are faced with an acute scarcity of the resource.
But authorities say they are working on a plan to ensure the equitable supply of water to all growers so as to deal with the problem effectively. The water level of Delhi dam, which irrigates most of farmlands in Shah Walikot, Arghandab, Zherai, Panjwai, Maiwand, Dand and Daman districts, has considerably fallen due to ongoing repairs.
As a result, farmers from Arghandab, Zherai, Panjwai, Maiwand, Dand and Daman complain they are receiving very little or no water at all. The shortage is taking a heavy toll on their crops, causing them severe losses, the growers say, calling for immediate action to address the issue.
An orchard owner from the Pashmol are of Zherai district, Abdul Qayyum, told Pajhwok Afghan News irrigation water supply from the dam had been reduced drastically for the past few months. The water paucity has been damaging their farmland, he grumbles.
Some time back, he recalls, growers from different districts visited the governor’s office to a lodge a complaint there and seek an early resolution to the problem. He claims there are several areas where irrigation water has completely dried up, pestering the growers who are about to harvest grapes and other fruits.
Haji Niamatullah, another gardener from Arghandab, is irritated by the erratic water supply that has adversely affected him. The district is dotted with pomegranate orchards, which need ample water at this point in the season. Lack of water inexorably translates into a reduced yield, he argues.
His counterpart from Daman district, Haji Nasrullah, says they are going through a double whammy: Water paucity and an encroachment on their right by certain strongmen, who are employing sheer force to irrigate their gardens out of turn. He wants the government to solve both problems on a priority basis. The dam’s walls be heightened as soon as possible.
Arghandab irrigation chief Eng. Sher Mohammad Attayee links the water shortage to reconstruction work on the dam and other technical issues. As a consequence, farmers are being affected this season, he acknowledges, warning continued supplies would mean an end to the dam’s water within a month.
If the dam dries up, crops will suffer even greater damage, he argues, urging the growers to use the available irrigation water discreetly. At a recent meeting, the official told tribal elders and farmers the problem could be resolved if growers took turns irrigating their lands.
Deputy Governor Abdul Ali Shamsi, who recently met tribal elders from different districts on the situation, opines all farmers should equally benefit from the dam water as a matter of right.
The officials concerned have been tasked with working out a merit-based schedule for irrigation water distribution, he continues, stressing the available dam water should continue to meet agricultural needs for the next two months.
He asks residents to expose the powerful individuals who are usurping the water rights of others. The strongmen will be dealt with in accordance with the law and referred to judicial organs, the deputy governor promises.
Provincial officials recently said that 94 percent of reconstruction work on the Delhi dam had been done and the project would be completed soon. A Turkish firm embarked on the project, including the reconstruction of gates, a wall house and tunnels, two yearsback.
The USAID-funded project will cost $71 million. Under the scheme, the height of the dam’s walls was to be raised to seven metres and six additional reservoirs were to be constructed. The project was estimated at $308 million, with the Ministry of Finance agreeing to pay $38 million.
However, the ministry could not arrange the money and hence the delay. Raising the dam’s height is necessary because it has already been hit by 40 percent of sedimentation. Previously, the facility could store 484mm cubes of water, but the capacity has now fallen to less than 300mm cubes.
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