J&K: Irrigation dept tells farmers not to sow paddy; harassment, says agriculture director

The advice by Kashmir’s irrigation and flood control department asking farmers to avoid sowing paddy this year owing to dry spell has not gone down well with the director of agriculture department, who called it harassment of farmers.

The irrigation and flood control department of Baramulla division on Wednesday issued an advertisement, asking farmers to avoid paddy as the department won’t be able to provide water for irrigation this year.

“The farmers are informed that there was very little snowfall this winter… Also the accumulated snow (over mountains) is melting fast owing to high temperatures. The melting of snow indicates that this year the water level can get very low in summers which can create difficulties in this year’s irrigation season,” said the communication signed by the executive engineer of the irrigation and flood control department in Baramulla division.

The winter as well as spring this year has mostly recorded 80% less precipitation than normal with temperatures hovering 8-10 degrees Celsius above normal in March and April. However, there was a major spell of rain on April 21, bringing the much-needed respite from the dry and hot weather.

The advisory listed at least 66 villages and areas of north Kashmir advising their farmers to go for other crops this year. “These areas are informed beforehand that this year they should not cultivate paddy. They should go for some alternative crops because the department won’t be able to provide water in this situation,” it said.

However, the move has not gone down well with the agriculture department, which says it is the actual authority for such an advisory.

“They are harassing people,” said Chowdhary Iqbal, director, agriculture, while commenting on the advisory.

“The irrigation department’s domain is to get water. Their domain is not to guide which crop one should cultivate. That work is for the department of agriculture and SKUAST University. The irrigation department does not have this technical know-how to advise such things,” Iqbal said.

He said they had also issued an advisory for preventative, precautionary and sustainability measures if weather deteriorates. He said that the spell of rain lately has improved the scenario.

“Will people leave sowing crops on their advisory? We have to take preventive measures. If paddy is not sown, some other crop will be sown like pulses or maize. So, what is the meaning of we can’t arrange irrigation,” he added.

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