Irrigation channel unused amidst drought

Dak Lak (VNA) – An expensive
irrigation system in Ea Sup district of the Central Highlands province of Dak
Lak has been lying idle, while local crops are parched.

Total investment for the project behind Ea
Sup Lake in the Ea Sup district hit 25.3 billion VND (1.1 million USD), with
the construction handled by the state-owned Irrigation Construction and
Management Board No.8 under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

According to the original design, the-5km
concrete construction would transport water from the Upper Ea Sup Lake – the
largest artificial fresh water lake in the province, and second largest in the
Central Highlands – to 200ha of crops in the Ea Sup town and Cu M’lan of Ea Sup

In 2012, the work was completed, and the
irrigation board handed it over to the Dak Lak Irrigation Management JSC to
manage, however, the irrigation system has not yet been used, the Nhan
Dan (People) newspaper reported.

The million-dollar work is in a derelict
state – the irrigation channel doesn’t hold any water but is covered in grass,
while due to years of negligence, erosion from rainwater has caused some parts
of the channel to collapse, rendering it unusable.

Mai Quoc Vuong, Director of the Irrigation
Construction and Management Board No.8, also disclosed that one of the reasons
the channel is unused is that it actually is a main channel of a system
comprising another 10 smaller irrigation channels that will continue to
transport water to faraway fields. The government has tasked Dak Lak People’s
Committee with constructing these channels, however, due to budget shortage,
the construction has not started, delaying the use of the main channel.

Director of the channel’s current managing
company, Tran The Hoan, also attributed the non-operation of the channel to
this, reiterating the need for ‘synchronous’ investment to make all the
components work effectively.

It’s a great waste, especially considering Ea
Sup district is among the localities hit hardest by drought and one of the
poorest districts in the province. In the dry season, locals have to be mindful
of all they water use for farming and themselves, yet right beside them there
is a huge but unusable irrigation channel.

In recent years, local farming has suffered
greatly from severe drought, with total losses in some orchards.

Thai Van Chau, a farmer in village 5 of Ea
Sup town, said his family is tending some 6ha of pepper and fruit trees.

Drought is so severe every dry season that
people here were elated to see an irrigation channel being built.

“Other households in the area, like me, have
worked on our little plantations for decades, but depended entirely on natural
rainfall,” Chau said, adding that ensuring water for orchards in the dry season
would help to earn more income, greatly alleviating poverty.

“We implore authorities to investigate
whatever problems keep the irrigation construction from operating and fix them
soon, avoiding this unfortunate waste of state funds,” he said. Many people
located in areas where the channel courses through echoed Chau’s comments.

Doan Van Vinh, a resident of village 7, Cu
M’lan commune, said that some locals have even filled some parts of the channel
to make ‘roads’ into their orchards.

Vuong said the board completed quality
assessment of the work before handing it over. “The board has ensured the
construction follows the original design approved by the authorities.”

“Whether the channel can be used efficiently
is entirely up to local authorities and the managing company. The managing
company has the responsibility to conduct frequent maintenance,” he said.-VNA

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