Some recent reports have indicated that there can be a shortage of irrigation water in coming months.
This can be because of the lack of timely rainfall and also due to lack of inadequate snowfall in just ended winter. No significant snowfall occurred in plain areas in the winter.
Heavy snowfall was reported sometimes in higher reaches, but frequency of such snowfall was lesser this winter also. River Jhelum and its tributaries are snow-fed, and supply water to irrigation canals.
The inadequate snowfall in winter has created an impression among the experts that there can be irrigation water crisis this year. Only time can tell to what extent is this apprehension correct.
But at the same time, steps should be taken in advance to deal with such a situation. The farmers should be also guided properly in advance.
Last year also there was shortage of irrigation water in several areas. The paddy fields could not get the water in time and the paddy saplings were damaged.
The experts suggested to farmers in several areas not to go for paddy crop and instead cultivate other crops, which do not require much water.
Usually farmers in Kashmir like to grow paddy crop because rice is a staple diet here. Switching over to other crops is a bitter experience for them. But due to water shortage, they do not have any other option but to go for other crops. Water is also needed to irrigate the apple orchards in absence of rains.
Sometimes due to continuous dry weather conditions for weeks and months, orchards have to be necessarily irrigated. If the irrigation water is not available for the orchards, the apple production also gets hit. As per reports the day temperature in March this time is unusually high.
The weatherman has predicted heat wave in April. Such a scenario, and then shortage of irrigation water cannot be a good sign for agriculture and horticulture. Without getting panicky, strategies have to be evolved well before.
The irrigation department must gear up and review the functioning of various irrigation schemes, canals and equipment. Necessary work and repairs, wherever needed, must be done.
The farmers too must act. They should not wholly rely on the department to get the things done. Better coordination between the irrigation department and farmers can help in solving the problems.
Steps must be taken at various levels to ensure that the agriculture and horticulture production is not affected due to shortage of irrigation water. Whatever is required must be done in advance to manage the possible crisis in near future.