The government has launched a project to introduce prepaid metre system in Muhuri Irrigation Project, one of the country’s important projects in Feni, to help farmers avail of water for irrigation using cards,UNB reports.
Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB) has started the work under the Irrigation Management Improvement Project (IMIP) with financial support from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), BWDB executive engineer (Feni O&M Division) Md Kohinoor Alam told the UNB correspondent during his recent visit to the Muhuri Project.
According to BWDB officials, the Tk-457 crore IMIP will install around 800 mitres at water pumps in the Muhuri project area. Once the project is implemented, farmers will be able to use prepaid cards to get water for irrigation during the dry season, which will cut their irrigation cost.
Enhancing water productivity is one of the key priorities of the government. And the experiment in the Muhuri region is going to be adopted to find a new and innovative approach to agricultural irrigation.
The IMIP’s objective is to ensure sustained high growth in irrigated agriculture through efficient and sustainable management of large scale irrigation schemes, leading to high yields and higher cropping intensification.
Muhuri Irrigation Project is one of the country’s important irrigation projects. The project, launched in 1977-1978 and completed in 1985-1986, depends on the waters of three rivers — Feni, Muhuri and Milunia. A sluice gate of the Muhuri project, installed in Sonagazi of Feni, provides water to Feni Sadar, Chhagyal Niayia, Purshuram, Phulgazi, Sonagazi and a few areas in Mirsarai of Chittagong for irrigation during the dry season.
Md Jahir Uddin, sub-divisional engineer of BWDB (Feni O&M Division), said the IMIP will rehabilitate water infrastructures of the Muhuri project for 60,258 hectares of gross areas in Purshuram, Phulgazi, Chhagyal Niayyia, Feni Sadar and Sonagazi upazilas of Feni and parts of Mirsarai in Chittagong.
He said the rehabilitation of water infrastructures will ensure sustainable operation and management of Muhuri Irrigation Project. About the benefit of the new scheme, BWDB extension overseer Humayun Kabir said the prepaid system will help farmers cut expenses in irrigation significantly as now middlemen are charging high cost in supplying water to their arable land.
“Now framers have to spend Tk 4,000-Tk 4,500 for water supply on one acre of land. If the prepaid metre system is introduced, the cost will come down to Tk 2,000-Tk 2,500 for per acre of land,” he added.
About 427 canals will be re-excavated to bring 17,000 hectares of land under irrigation of the prepaid metre system, Kabir said, adding that the new scheme will benefit about 8,000 families in the region.
The IMIP for the Muhuri Irrigation Project is expected to be concluded by 2019. BWDB officials said about 2,000 hectares of arable land will be brought under the prepaid irrigation scheme my next year through installing 81 pumps with prepaid metres.
New Zealand-based firm ANZDEC has already been appointed as the interim Muhuri Irrigation Management operator, which will support the BWDB in the development of new and improved irrigation management practices and systems. At the end of the five-year project period, the independent and self-funding systems will be handed over to a third-party operator.