IMPHAL, July 24: The decision of the state cabinet to utilize the River Lift Irrigation (RLI) Schemes for irrigating the dry paddy fields in view of drought-like condition in the state seems to be infeasible as the water pump sets and other equipments of RLI Schemes are currently not workable.
At least 15 days will be required to fix the problem. The spare parts and other accessories of the water pump sets will have to be procured from other states.
In a telephonic conversation with the IFP this afternoon, the Chief Engineer of Minor Irrigation Department, Shyamkumar told IFP that the state has 139 RLI Schemes with permanent pump house besides two other schemes with temporary pump house. There are 48 RLI Schemes in Thoubal district, 40 schemes in Bishnupur district (Kumbi-38 and Thanga-2), 22 schemes in Imphal East and 31 schemes in Imphal West and one scheme in Churachandpur district. Only 115 schemes out of the total 141 schemes in the state may be functional, he noted.
The water pump sets of the RLI Schemes have not been used for quite a long time and so they must be repaired before they can be operated to irrigate water from the river to the fields. At least 10 litres of mobil oil will be required while servicing the water pumps. Moreover, the Minor Irrigation Department is yet to make arrangement for suction pipes and pipes for supplying water to the fields. Rings, clamp, ball bearings, full valve and other accessories of water pumps need to be procured from outside the state, the Chief Engineer stated.
The water pump requires three litres of diesel for one-hour operation and it can be operated for about eight hours. The pump can also be operated for 10-12 hours if there is rest at regular intervals during the operation.
The Minor Irrigation Department will have to spend about Rs. 50 lakh as the cost for diesel to be used in operating the water pump sets as the RLI Schemes do not generate any revenue from the beneficiaries. The state government has so far not sanctioned any fund for purchasing diesel oil and spare parts of water pumps. The government is planning to increase the number of RLI Schemes from 141 to 150, Shyamkumar asserted.
The Chief Engineer further maintained that the budget allocation of Minor Irrigation Department is only Rs. 270 lakhs and it will not be able to irrigate all paddy fields in the state.
Only those paddy fields in and around the RLI Schemes can be irrigated through the RLI Scheme. As of now, RLI Schemes work on Iril River, Imphal River, Kongba River and Nambul River.
IFP also contacted commissioner of Minor Irrigation Department, Ramthanga to get the details of RLI Schemes. However, he failed to provide the required information as he has taken the charge since two/three days.
The IFP also visited the RLI Scheme at Mongsangei Boroi Makhong.
The Chowkidar of that scheme told that the paddy field owners are buying the diesel oil for operating the water pump set. The paddy fields in and around the scheme are being irrigated from Nambul River. However, some water from this scheme is wasted due to cracks in the drainage system.
The chowkidar and pump operator have not received their salaries for the last 20 years.
IFP also found out that some works for RLI were being executed at Tejpur and Kangla, but there was no water pump.
The farmers of Senapati Loukon, Bamon Loukon, Langthabal Lep Loukon were irrigating from Iril River through a water pump set donated by Oinam Malesh who contested the 10th assembly election from Naoriya Pakhanglakpa Kendra in CPI ticket.
The farmers of Imphal-Ukhrul Road were found irrigating their paddy fields though private water tankers hired at Rs. 600 per trip.
The four hills districts, namely Ukhrul, Tamenglong, Chandel and Senapari have been excluded from the provisions of the RLI Schemes.