Tube well demand soars as irrigation project falls short

- Binod Bhandari, BIRATNAGAR

Mar 11, 2016-

Demand for shallow tube wells has shot up in eastern Nepal as the irrigation project there has fallen short, leaving large parts of the region without water supplies. 

The government has installed 500 shallow tube wells in Morang and Sunsari districts and 300 in Jhapa district this year, according to the Groundwater Irrigation Development Division, Sunsari. Upendra Ratna Sthapit, chief of the division office, said that farmers in Morang had asked for 700 tube wells while demand in Sunsari totalled 270 tube wells. “We were able to install only 300 tube wells in Morang and 200 in Sunsari.” 

The demand in Jhapa amounted to 775 tube wells, he said. Last year, 885 tube wells had been installed in the three eastern Tarai districts.  

The government has been providing a grant of Rs43,000 each to farmers wanting to install tube wells. This year, the government has distributed Rs60 million in grants to sink tube wells. A shallow tube well can irrigate 4 bighas of land round the year. The office claimed that this year 850 bighas of land had been irrigated through tube wells in Jhapa, Morang, Sunsari and Ilam. 

Likewise, the government has been supporting farmers to install deep bore wells in the Eastern Region. A deep bore well can irrigate 60 bigh-as of land. The government has been spending Rs450 million annually on the Sunsari-Morang Irrigation Project. 

The project has targeted covering 68,000 hectares of land in Morang and Sunsari during the monsoon season and 30,000 hectares during the dry season. After the project failed to meet its target, demand for tube wells has soared considerably.  

Rajendra Upreti, chief of the Morang-Sunsari Irrigation Project, said that after the scheme failed to irrigate the targeted area of farmland, the government decided to distribute money to farmers to install tube wells. Grants range from Rs50,000 to Rs150,000 depending on the requirement of tube wells and depth. Project officials said that the infrastructure of the Morang-Sunsari Irrigation Project had become old and the water level in the Koshi River had dropped below the project’s intake. As a result, the irrigation channel does not receive the required amount of water.  

The project developed by India in 1954 was officially handed over to Nepal in 1972. Since then, the government has been injecting Rs450 million into the project annually. 

This year, the government has set an ambitious goal of offering round-the-year irrigation facility in the Tarai/Madhes region in the next five years. Currently, only 18 percent of the total farmland has round-the-year irrigation.

The budget for 2015-16 has laid emphasis on constructing mega irrigation projects to irrigate all of the Tarai’s fertile land and promote deep bore wells and other sources of water. 

Published: 11-03-2016 09:38

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