16 Oct 2021, 13:04

Experts attribute surface water conservation to mitigate Barind water crisis

   By Dr Aynal Haque

   RAJSHAHI, Oct 16, 2021 (BSS) - Surface water conservation is of essence of
mitigating the water crisis, which is being deepened due to deficit of
rainfall, in the region, including its vast Barind tract.

  Jahangir Alam Khan, Coordinator of Integrated Water Resource Management
(IWRM) Project, said inadequate rainfall has been escalating the crises in
the region for the last few years.

   Local meteorological office recorded 1,400 millimeters of rainfall in a
year on an average here for the last around 30 years.

   In the last five and a half month from May to October 14 last, the met
office registered 1,432.8 millimeters of rainfall in Rajshahi, said Debal
Qumar Moitra, Observatory staff of Rajshahi Meteorological Office.

   Jahangir Khan said prospects of boosting irrigation by surface water is
very bright in Rajshahi Barind area as it has scores of natural water bodies
which remain in uncared and derelict condition at present.

   He said they are motivating and encouraging more than 12.58 lakh community
people of 2.66 lakh households towards promoting and using the surface water
resources to reduce the pressure on underground water under the IWRM project.

   The project is being implemented in around 1,280 drought-hit villages
under 39 union parishads and three municipalities of eight upazilas in
Rajshahi, Naogaon and Chapainawabganj districts since 2014.

   The existing adverse impact of climate change is putting local people into
trouble since the hand-driven tube-wells are not functioning here in the dry
season, he added.

   Khan mentioned that there are around 10,000 ponds, 200 canals and ten
other big sized waterbodies in the barind areas including Beelbhatia, a vast
water body and wetland of around 6,388 acres, at Bholahat upazila in

   Tens of thousands hectares of farmlands can be irrigated round the year
through using conserved water of the beel if it is re-excavated.

   There is another four to five kilometer long water body at Rohanpur in
Gomastapur upazila of the same district. If it is re-excavated, around 10,000
hectares of land of 25,000 farmers can be brought under surface water

   Apart from this, the two-kilometer Chowdala-Boalia canal remained in
derelict condition for a long time. Around 150 hectares of farmlands can be
irrigated with water from the canal if it is renovated.

   Transformation of all the existing underground water-based irrigation into
surface water ones can be crucial of lessening the gradually mounting
pressure on groundwater.

   Khan said that the gradually declining water resources are posing a
serious threat to the living and livelihood conditions of the marginalized
and other less-income group families in the water-stressed area.

   He, however, said rainwater harvesting can be indispensible for easing
living and livelihood conditions of people through mitigating the water
crises in the Barind area.

   Time has come to extend necessary knowledge and devices to the communities
to make them capable of availing the opportunities of rainwater harvesting

   Meanwhile, Barind Multipurpose Development Authority (BMDA) has started
implementing a project titled "Small irrigation through pond re-excavation
and surface water augmentation" recently.

   BMDA Executive Director Engineer Abdur Rashid said the five-year project
is being implemented in 43 drought-prone upazilas with an estimated cost of
around Taka 128.19 crore.

   Around 715 more derelict ponds and 10 other big closed water bodies will
be brought under re-excavation aimed at making those suitable for use in both
irrigation and household purposes in the region including its vast Barind
tract in near future.



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