Vol. 5 Num 263 Tue. February 22, 2005  

Teesta project dam breaches again
Farmers say the project is now a woe for them

The embankment of Teesta Irrigation Project has breached again, inundating over 500 acres of IRRI-Boro fields and covering a vast area with sand.

About 20 feet embankment of the Dinajpur Canal gave in on the night of February 17 at Sona Roy village in Nilphamari Sadar upazila.

Over 500 farmers working day and night have partially repaired the breach.

When informed, Water Development Board (WDB) officials in Nilphamari stopped supply of water through the canal, which has deprived several thousand acres of IRRI-Boro lands of irrigation water.

Talking to this correspondent on Sunday, the affected farmers alleged that the embankment breached due to pressure of water as it was not constructed as per design. Sand was used in the construction work instead of soil, they also alleged.

They also apprehended more breach in the embankment any time.

This correspondent on Sunday failed to contact the Nilphamari Division WDB Executive Engineer (EX-EN) despite repeated attempts.

Within 17 days, the embankment breached at three points, the farmers said.

The Dinajpur Canal is supposed to provide irrigation to 12,000 acres of land in Nilphamari Sadar, Khansama and Chirir Bandar upazilas in Nilphamari district and Parbotipur upazila in Dinajpur.

But the farmers are now confused whether the purpose will be served because of frequent breaches in the embankment. Many of them are also questioning viability of the irrigation project.

At least 15 major breaches took place in embankments of different canals under the Teesta Irrigation Project since its commissioning in 1998.

Each breach either flooded crop lands or kept irrigation suspended for weeks, which affected IRRI-Boro.

But project officials alleged sabotage and also filed cases against farmers.

Earlier, on February 12, about 100 feet of the Dinajpur Canal breached, inundating about 15,000 acres of IRRI-Boro land in Jaldjhaka upazila in Nilphamari district.

The canal also breached at Chichirbandar upazila in Dinajpur district on the same day and at Champatoli villager on February 1.

The Teesta project has 3,81,000 acres of land under its command area in 12 upazilas of Nilphamari, Rangpur and Dinajpur districts.

It was gathered that the embankment had breached at Dundibari in Jaldhaka on September 1, 1998, a few months after its commissioning.