RAJSHAHI: Surface water conservation is essential for mitigating the water crisis in the region, including its vast Barind tract as the crisis is being deepened due to declining rainfall.
Jahangir Alam Khan, Coordinator of Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) Project, said inadequate rainfall has been escalating the crises in the region for the last few years.
In the last five and a half month from May to October 14 last, the met office registered 1,432.8 millimeters of rainfall in Rajshahi, said Debal Qumar Moitra, Observatory staff of Rajshahi Meteorological Office.
Jahangir Khan said prospects of boosting irrigation by surface water is very bright in Rajshahi Barind area as it has scores of natural water bodies which remain in uncared and derelict condition at present.
He said they are motivating and encouraging more than 12.58 lakh community people of 2.66 lakh households towards promoting and using the surface water resources to reduce the pressure on underground water under the IWRM project.
The project is being implemented in around 1,280 drought-hit villages under 39 union parishads and three municipalities of eight upazilas in Rajshahi, Naogaon and Chapainawabganj districts since 2014.
The existing adverse impact of climate change is putting local people into trouble since the hand-driven tube-wells are not functioning here in the dry season, he added.
Tens of thousands hectares of farmlands can be irrigated round the year through using conserved water of the beel if it is re-excavated.
There is another four to five kilometer long water body at Rohanpur in Gomastapur upazila of the same district. If it is re-excavated, around 10,000 hectares of land of 25,000 farmers can be brought under surface water irrigation.
Apart from this, the two-kilometer Chowdala-Boalia canal remained in derelict condition for a long time. Around 150 hectares of farmlands can be irrigated with water from the canal if it is renovated.
Transformation of all the existing underground water-based irrigation into surface water ones can be crucial of lessening the gradually mounting pressure on groundwater.
Khan said that the gradually declining water resources are posing a serious threat to the living and livelihood conditions of the marginalised and other less-income group families in the water-stressed area.
He, however, said rainwater harvesting can be indispensible for easing living and livelihood conditions of people through mitigating the water crises in the Barind area.
Time has come to extend necessary knowledge and devices to the communities to make them capable of availing the opportunities of rainwater harvesting technologies.
Meanwhile, Barind Multipurpose Development Authority (BMDA) has started implementing a project titled "Small irrigation through pond re-excavation and surface water augmentation" recently.
BMDA Executive Director Engineer Abdur Rashid said the five-year project is being implemented in 43 drought-prone upazilas with an estimated cost of around Taka 128.19 crore.
Around 715 more derelict ponds and 10 other big closed water bodies will be brought under re-excavation aimed at making those suitable for use in both irrigation and household purposes in the region including its vast Barind tract in near future.