PARBAT, July 17: Tek Bahadur GC of Mallaj of Jaljala Rural Municipality is happy that a four-decade old irrigation project is finally being completed. But he is equally worried at the sustainability of the project as the Irrigation Development Sub-Division will withdraw from the project once it is completed.
Mallaj Irrigation Project is linked with the life and future of locals of Jaljala Rural Municipality. Tek Bahadur, who has served as the chairman of the project, is worried for the project's canal has been blocked by landslides time and again. “Local resources might not be sufficient for its maintenance,” he added.
Nar Bahadur GC, a local of Jaljala, is also worried at the project's sustainability. “We need huge amount of money for regular maintenance works. Shortage of funds could lead to closure of the project,” Nar Bahadur said. “If that happens, hundreds of hectare of land will become barren.”
Almost all farmland in Ward No. 1, 2, 3 and 4 of Jaljala Rural Municipality will remain fallow if the project does not function regularly, Shanta Lamichhane, another local, said. “Both the government and the consumers should take this issue seriously as it is interlinked with the life and future of Jaljala locals,” she added.
The project brings water from source located 8.5 kilometers away from the village. Upon completion, it will 460 hectare of land in Jaljala Rural Municipality. As the canal passes through steep rocky surface, it has collapsed many times. At present, the project is bringing water by installing pipes. But locals fear it will not last for long.
The project was initiated four decades ago as per the direction of late king Birendra who visited Parbat district in 1978. But it could start only in 2001. Parliamentarian Arjun Prasad Joshi has laid high priority to the project. The main canal of the project has already been built, and work to build branch canals is going on.
According to Tek Bahadur, Rs 135 million has already been invested in the project. A dry landslide swept away a section of the canal in February. “The project has used pipe in the damaged section at present. We don't who what will happen in the future,” added Tek Bahadur.
Tek Bahadur, who is overseeing construction of the project for the past one and half decades, said difficult geology is making things difficult for the project. “As canals have been carved into the rocky surface where chances of landslide are higher, it would create problem in the future,” he added.
For ensuring project's sustainability, Nar Bahadur suggesting establishing a cooperative at the local level and handing over project maintenance works to it. Nar Bahadur, who served as the secretary of the project in the past, said that the government should allocate some funds to the cooperative for maintenance work after the sub-division office withdraws from the project.
Chief of Irrigation Development Sub-Division, Parbat, Rajendra Kumar Shrestha, said that the government will not allocate budget after the project is completed. “It would be a good idea to form a cooperative to look after regular maintenance of the project,” he added.