Region 2 farmers affected by low rainfall

Dear Editor,
I want to comment on the article in your column dated January 4, 2019, concerning rainfall and irrigation for Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam) farmers.
The article reported that despite the pumps of the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority working beyond the scheduled operating hours, the level of irrigation water in the main canal continued to be insufficient to adequately service all the rice fields in both the front and backland areas.
I was an Overseer with the Hydraulics Division in Region Two before I resigned in December 1981, with responsibility for the Dawa pump station and the Main Canal. When there was little or no rainfall, the four pumps at Dawa worked 24/7. Yes, fuel was a big issue, and when funds were unavailable, Kayman Sankar paid for the fuel.
The engineer reported that the pumps were working beyond the scheduled operating hours and these hours were extended.
He added that should the need arise; the hours will be further extended. This is a clear indication that the pumps are NOT working 24/7. If there are constraints to operate the four pumps 24/7, then do not put blame on the weather.
The article reported that the front lands were mainly affected. From my experience, irrigating the front lands was never a problem. These are the lowest lands and with the Tail Wall closed, the leakage from the main canal regulators alone was almost adequate. The third depth rice fields are the highest and are usually a problem with irrigation if the Main Canal is not at a certain level.
The Tapakuma Irrigation Project was inaugurated in the early 1960s, almost six decades ago, and included the Dawa Pump Station, the Main Canal and the regulators.
When I left, the pump station was falling apart due to a lack of funds. Vandalism was rampant and many of the gates for the regulators had disappeared or were totally damaged.
The Main canal embankment was porous and a large amount of valuable water was seeping out at many places. Silt had begun to build up in the Main Canal.
I know that rehabilitation work was eventually done to the Dawa Pump Station, but, I’m not sure if desilting of the Main Canal was ever done.
The system, as was intended, will definitely boost rice cultivation in the region, only when it is properly maintained and skillfully supervised by experienced personnel.

Mohamed Majeed
Former D&I Overseer