Farmers in crisis

09/10/2017

This year the monsoon withdrew from Jammu and Kashmir on September 2, 2017 16 days prior to the normal withdrawal timing thereby leading to severe deficit of the rainfall, which otherwise was necessary for crops particularly world famous Basmati grown in border areas of Jammu. The prolonged dry-spell caused by early withdrawal of monsoon has landed thousands of farmers of Jammu in crisis as in the absence of rains the water level of River Chenab and all the major canals, which provide irrigation facility to vast agricultural land, has depleted drastically. The more worrying aspect is that Indian Meteorological Department doesn’t see any immediate change in the prevailing weather conditions at least for another 10-15 days. The impact caused by early withdrawal of monsoon can be gauged from the fact that generally the water level of River Chenab during September-October remains 22 feet to 23 feet at Akhnoor but this year the water level has depleted considerably to 16 feet during this period. Since all the four major canals Ranbir Canal, New Pratap Canal, Ranjan Canal and Pargwal Canal, which provide irrigation facilities to the entire agricultural land in Jammu, get water from River Chenab the depletion of water level in the river has also led to unprecedented low level of water discharge in these canals.
The Irrigation Department can lift water in these canals from Chenab only when the water level remains at 12 feet or more as such only 4 feet of water is presently being diverted to these four canals thereby creating acute scarcity of water for agricultural activities. Normally 1000 cubic feet of water per second at present only 500 cubic feet of water is being lifted from Chenab to these canals. Those farmers who are dependent upon Ranbir Canal for irrigation are the worst affected as command area of this canal is much more than that of other three canals and helps in irrigating 38608 hectares of agricultural land and due to 50% flow of water over 19000 hectares of land is without water at present”. The more worrying aspect is that Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) doesn’t see any immediate change in the prevailing weather conditions at least for another 10-15 days.

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