Water shortage likely to hit Valley agriculture
Govt Warns Farmers Against Paddy Cultivation In Some Areas; 10 Lakh Kanals May Be Affected
Srinagar, May 1: The continuous depletion of water resources and frequent dry spells witnessed in Kashmir for the past some years have started to cast shadow on the Valley agriculture. Fearing acute shortage of water this summer, and drought like situation in some areas, the state government has warned the farmers against paddy cultivation in the areas situated at tail ends.
In some rice producing belts like north Kashmir’s Handwara area, the entire farming community has been asked to give up the cultivation of rice and shift to some alternative crop.
Officials say that more than one third of rice production was likely to get affected as the tail ends constitute at least 10 lakh kanals of paddy land.
The Irrigation department, which has issued the circular, mentioned that if farmers failed to adhere to the recommendations they would themselves be responsible for the consequences.
The water flow in rivers, streams and canals has receded due to climate change and lack of timely snow and rainfall, the circular reads.
“There is possibility of a drought in near future and farmers are informed not to cultivate paddy. If they fail to adhere to the recommendations they would themselves be responsible for the consequences,” the circular said.
However, the farming community is furious against the government. Ready to ignore the warning, they are adamant to go ahead with rice cultivation.
“Let government provides us with an alternative for livelihood if they want us to give up the practice for this cropping season,” said a farmer, Abdul Gani, who owns 16 kanals of agricultural land most of which is paddy land.
Director Agriculture, Kashmir, Mian Majeed told Greater Kashmir that the department has advised the farmers to grow alternative crops like pulses on the paddy land in the tail areas as the Valley received less rains which could severely affect the irrigation facility.
“At least 1.62 lakh hectares of agriculture land is under paddy cultivation in the Valley of which the tail areas constitute 50,000 hectares (10 lakh kanals),” he said.
The directions have come at a time when Kashmir is facing severe ration crisis with the ever mounting gap in demand and supply.
Shocked, the farming community is aghast on the government’s ‘failure’ to tackle the water crisis which is now showing its impact on agriculture- the backbone of the state economy with more than 55 percent of the state population dependent on it.
Though the Irrigation department has issued the recommendations to the farmers across the Valley through its district officials, government tried to play down the matter saying it was only a ‘prediction.’
The Chief Engineer, Irrigation and Flood Control department, Najibullah said the recommendations were issued as Valley had been witnessing far less than average rains and snow in the past which in turn had led to drying up of water bodies like streams, rivers and ponds at many places.
According to studies carried out by the Kashmir University’s Geography department, glaciers are receding at a fast rate.
The problem has got compounded for the government as there are no dams and big reservoirs, like in neighboring Punjab, to harvest rain water. “For this reason we are heavily dependent on timely rains for paddy cultivation as all the rain and snow water gets wasted for want of preservation,” said an official of the Agriculture department.
He said since the Valley was experiencing less snow, it was likely to melt before the peak cropping season and the paddy cultivation in tail areas was bound to get affected for want of timely irrigation.
Last year many parts of the state including entire north Kashmir had witnessed drought like situation which had severely affected the agricultural and horticultural produce in the entire region.
The CE Irrigation department said the government was gearing up to face any eventuality. The department has already purchased drought pumps and is taking a number of measures to ensure agriculture sector does not suffer, he said. “But less rains and dry spell is something out of our hands. We can only give our best,” he said.
The water shortage, which was severely felt in rural and far flung areas, was already forcing the government to explore underground water resources.
The Minister for Agriculture, Ghulam Hassan Mir, said since Kashmir was experiencing less rains the government has been cautious to inform the farmers not to go for paddy cultivation.
“The tail areas have usually less irrigation facility and that is the reason they have been asked to shift to crops which require less irrigation facility,” he said.
Lastupdate on : Sat, 1 May 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 1 May 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 2 May 2010 00:00:00 IST
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