Mansa, September 23: Farmers in more than 10 villages in Mansa district have faced damage to cotton and paddy crops due to natural waterlogging and upward seepage due to high level of groundwater. And a threat now looms over sowing of wheat in the coming months.
“Underground water here is available at 2-5 feet below the surface. Even after mild rain, there is waterlogging that damages the cotton crop,” said Bhog Singh of Jatana Kalan village. This year, around 1,000 acres of standing crop of cotton and paddy are submerged in water with farmers staring at huge financial losses.
In the rest of Punjab, the problem is the opposite, as water level is too low.
Farmers said that the previous government through the drainage department had worked on the Lifting Scheme under which a motor pump was installed to drain out water from the fields to the nearest water body; but most of these pumps are now dysfunctional, forcing farmers to install their own pumps. “Every year we have to spend from our pockets to arrange tractor-mounted pumps to drain out the water. If the situation remains the same, we will not be able to even sow wheat,” said another farmer of Kusla village who did not want to be identified.
HT has also found that pipes fitted with pumps installed by the government were damaged and farmers had to arrange polythene bags to stop leakages. “We had invited officials of the district administration to resolve the issue and had also shown them the damaged pipes. To our dismay, the officials asked us to poll in money and arrange polythene bags and cement to fix the problem,” said Gamdoor Singh of Jatana Kalan village.
The drainage department blames the lack of staff and funds. “Lifting scheme was launched sometime in 1978, and later around 28 motor pumps were installed in the villages of Mansa and Bathinda districts. Later the maintenance of pumps was also neglected as the problem of waterlogging ended in certain villages. We have sent a proposal demanding around Rs 5 lakh for the maintenance of the dysfunctional pumps,” said Bhushan Garg, executive engineer of the drainage department.
The government in the past constructed drains to connect pumps with submerged fields in order to remove the water. However, farmers in due course encroached the drains which only worsened the situation. “When the farmers felt that the problem of waterlogging was resolved, they encroached upon the drains. That made it impossible for the pumps to flush out the water,” said another farmer from Kotra village.
Except for the headline, the news has been sourced from hindustantimes.com