By Shyam Waikhom
IMPHAL, December 15: The Khoupum Irrigation Project, which is the oldest dam in the entire region, carrying the hopes, dreams and faith of the people of Khoupum especially the farmers has been reduced to the status of a mere fishing pond.
The historic ever built dam in Northeast is on the brink of collapse due to government apathy.
The government has failed to repair the dam since inauguration.
According to the inaugural stone at the Khoupum Irrigation Project, it was inaugurated on July 26, 1978 by the then Chief Minister Yangmaso Shaija and the Khoupum Dam Project Canal System was opened in May 4, 1983 by the then Chief Minister Rishang Keishing with his IFC minister Th Chaoba in tow.
The dam remains in a pathetic condition with large potholes, puddles of mud in the pedestrian area, with no one to look into its maintenance.
Since the project was taken up with the hope of helping the farmers with irrigation throughout the year, the farmers of the area were hoping for proper irrigation for double cropping, which has remained a dream till date.
The Zeliangrong Student Union, Khoupum area (ZSUKA) appealed to the concerned authority and the state government for repairing works by mending the worn-out dam at the earliest.
In an exclusive conversation with this IFP reporter, ‘Mohari’ of the Khoupum Dam Irrigation Project Thaikhuimei from Khoupum said that the main objective of constructing the dam is to provide for double cropping through-out the year.
He said that dam cannel covers over 500 acres of agricultural paddy field of 30 villages of Khoupum valley.
The dam has right side and left side canal, with each covering about 8 kilometres.
The dam is under the IFCD division-II (Irrigation maintenance Division-II) with two SOs, one AE four regular and some master-role employees here, but unfortunately the regular employees remain at Imphal due to certain unavoidable circumstances in the area, the mohori expressed.
He further said that the dam is constructed over the River Mingchial.
The dam is today being used as a mere fishing pond, with few people indulging in fishing there, he observed.
Since the day of commissioning the dam, the concern department has failed to look after the dam and its maintenance.
The road approaching the dam was a dirt road, however a villager at the dam area, said that the road used to be a blacktopped during the days of the commissioning.
However there has been not a single repairing work ever since, he added.
The right canal which is about 8 km long continues to remain broken since the last many years, and so farmers have to make further stream for water to reach their fields, said a farmer.
Moreover, the water canal can cover only upto three kms which is about 150 paris of agricultural field, another person added.
The zero point of the dam’s canal has remained broken since 2007, the water gate of the dam is malfunctioning and remained jammed for long and as such the water has failed to reach the maximum level.
Expert engineers said that the main gate is pipe system, and in case the mouth level of the pipe is increase up to 3 meter, the dam can provide water to the fields of the valley.
Farmers also regretted that while the dam was functioning properly, the IFCD seeking double benefit, handed over the maintenance of the dam to the Fishery department for five years and allowed the dam water to be used for fishing.
The degradation of the dam continued during this period.
The farmers continue to wait for repairing and rebuilding of the oldest dam of the NE region by the government and allow the farmers to avail of the dam’s facilities.