An excavator pressed to action at an irrigation channel in Bhutan
An excavator pressed to action at an irrigation channel in Bhutan. Image: Northeast Now

Bhutan finance minister Tshering Namgyel has announced that the Himalayan kingdom is very much committed to supplying irrigation water to its ‘Indian friends’ along the border neighbouring Assam.

After media reports emerged of thousands of farmers of several villages of Tamulpur subdivision of Baksa district of Assam facing trouble as the water flow from irrigation channels of Bhutan was stagnant, Namgyel said the Bhutan government is striving to ensure a continuous flow of water and local authorities, communities have pitched in to maintain irrigation channels.

Sources said the irrigation channel is usually maintained by the farmers from Assam who cross the border for the work.

However, due to the COVID-19 situation and restrictions on movement across the border, the irrigation channel was not being maintained, thus interrupting the supply at the crucial sowing time of Kharif crops.

The Bhutanese officials and local communities have come to the rescue of Assam farmers and are putting efforts to maintain the irrigation channels.

Tshering,  in a Facebook post, said that authorities in his country “have been doing best to ensure the continuous supply of water to the farmer friends of India from Daifam-Udalguri, Samrang-Bhangtar, Motonga-BokaJulee and Samdrupjongkhar town – Patkikulee.

Sources added that the Bhutan government has been doing repairs in the channels to ensure smooth flow of water to Assam where the Bhutanese authorities- District Administration, Subdivision Administration, Mayor Office, members of the COVID-19 task force, volunteers, members of local communities have joined hands.

Meanwhile, Assam chief secretary Kumar Sanjay Krishna has also clarified that natural blockage is the actual cause behind the disruption of informal irrigation channels into Indian fields and Bhutan is helping to clean the blockage.

Shajid Khan

Shajid Khan is Northeast Now Correspondent in Udalguri. He can be reached at: itsshajidkhan@gmail.com