Farmers in Gorkha face difficulties to irrigate their fields as Daraudi river deepensMany farmers of Gorkha Municipality especially those in Ward No. 5 are facing difficulties to irrigate their fields as the water level of the Daraudi river has decreased over the years.
Kaluman Kumal, a farmer in Gorkha Municipality, used to produce up to 32 muris (approximately 2.5 tonnes) of paddy in around six ropanis (0.3 hectares) of land every year. But, last year, he only harvested 15 muris (a little over 1 tonne) of paddy due to insufficient water supply in his field.
Many farmers in Gorkha Municipality, especially those in Ward No. 5, are facing difficulties to irrigate their fields, as the water level in the Daraudi river has decreased over the years due to haphazard extraction of riverbed materials.
Although the regulations state that at least 500 metres distance should be maintained from an irrigation canal while extracting sand and stones from rivers, the local builders and aggregate contractors have not followed the directive, according to local farmers.
They say channelling the water from the river to the irrigation canal is becoming increasingly difficult.
Around 5,000 ropanis (254.36 hectares) of agricultural land from Beni Khola to Bohorabesi get their water from the Daraudi river. But in recent years, the irrigation canal is not getting enough water from the river.
Man Bahadur Kumal, a farmer in Chhebetar, said that his paddy crops were wilting due to inadequate water supply.
“These crops should be transplanted within 10 weeks of plantation, but we couldn’t do so this year,” said Man Bahadur.
Another farmer Purnaman Shrestha said the local farmers had requested the local aggregate contractors to stop rampant extraction of sand and stones in the river, to no avail.
“Our output is falling by the year because our crops are not getting enough water,” said Shrestha.
There are 577 farmers associated with the Suntale-Bohorabesi Irrigation Canal Consumers’ Committee. In recent years, they have been spending Rs 70,000-80,000 to make a temporary dam in the river so that they could channel the water into the canal.
“The water level in the river has lowered further this year. We won’t be able to build the dam to irrigate our fields even if we spend Rs 200,000,” said Krishnaji Thapa, chairman of the committee.
Time and again, farmers have also been urging the municipal government to regulate the aggregate mining business. The municipal office has not taken any concrete step so far, Thapa said. “The officials in the municipal office have been ignoring our requests.”
Five excavators and more than 10 trucks have been operating on the banks of Daraudi river, extracting sand and stones and transporting them to construction sites. The mining contract is owned by Unique Construction Service.
Pradip Kunwar, the company’s representative, said that his company was extracting sand and stones from the river in coordination and with approval of the local government. He also claimed that the company was not quarrying near the dam built for irrigation purpose.
“We are not working near the dam area. We will help farmers to construct a dam if they are facing problems,” said Kunwar.
The municipal office, meanwhile, said that it had not received any complaints from the farmers.
Prakash Dhakal, an engineer at the municipal office, said the office will inspect the area and take necessary action only after farmers have lodged a formal complaint.