Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir National Conference on Thursday condemned the laxity of government in addressing the water crisis that has hit the region’s staple paddy crop.
In a statement, party MP from Anantnag Hasnain Masoodi observed that farmers are worried about the creeping dryness in their paddy fields. The situation he said is quite grim and that the lack of irrigation infrastructure and decreasing water level in streams have further worsened the crises thus compounding the farmers woes.
“The state government is caught in a catch 22 situation, watching the situation in an unfazed manner. I flagged up the issue before as well. I had urged the government to install drought pumps across Kashmir to draw the low running water from streams. Our pleas were given a cold shoulder by the government. With each passing day, the situation is deteriorating and the administration is still not giving two hoots to evolving crises,” he said.
The prolonged dry spell, Masoodi said has led to decreased water levels in streams vital for irrigation. “But the scarcity is due to resources being mismanaged. Delay in the cleaning, repair and de-siltation of irrigation canals is a major factor that has deepened the crises. Had the concerned agencies given heed to our advice the situation would have been manageable. Periods of dry weather, with irregular rainfall, have been increasing over the years in the Valley. Given this fact, the administration should have attuned and upgraded existing 1,600 water schemes, including drinking water supplies to this new reality. Caught in show and pomp, the administration missed the buck,” he added.
Urging the government to declare districts which are under severe irrigation water stress as drought-hit, Masoodi asked the government to take a series of proactive steps including installation of drought pumps across Kashmir division and compensation to severely hit paddy farmers.
He also asked the government to invoke the provision for extending the number of entitlement under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS) from 100 days to 150 days in the drought affected areas across Kashmir and should consider every adult, rather than every household as the unit.