Thursday, 1 December, 2022

Gear up solar pump project work

The country’s agriculture strongly relies on irrigation. Croplands need irrigation regularly for paddy plantation. But, irrigation with diesel-powered engines has become too expensive due to high price of the fuel. Farmers often irrigate with electric motors, but that too has become difficult due to terrible load-shedding. Irrigated agriculture is at a crossroads as farmers are in dire straits. In this situation, solar irrigation system is deemed feasible. Back in May, 2018, BREB launched a NEC-approved solar irrigation pump project with a December 2020 completion deadline which was later extended to December 2022.

Almost four years are about to pass, but it is unfortunate to mention that merely 30 percent of the project work has been completed. Till March this year, just 3.75 percent of pumps have been installed which has been revealed in an inspection report of project watchdog IMED. It thinks that completing installation of the rest of 1,295 pumps will not end before December 2025. A prominent economist blamed corruption, mismanagement and inefficiency behind the project delay. Strict punitive measures should immediately be taken against the persons responsible for the dismal situation.

Moreover, it should be investigated if it is a kind of sabotage on the part of the vested interests who want to be gainers putting the project in limbo. However, ADB is supposed to provide Tk 3.24 billion out of Tk 3.94 billion revised project cost. But, because of slow progress of the project, the lenders released only 7percent of the committed fund. The project work should be geared up so that ADB agrees to release the rest amount as per its commitment. Another thing deserves to be considered immediately. It is that farmers are not very much interested in the scheme because they have to pay 35 percent of pump’s cost while the government is providing 65 percent money. Lots of farmers are not solvent enough to pay the aforesaid amount. The authorities concerned should lower the cost of the pump and provide more money so that farmers can avail themselves of the benefit of solar pump following fast completion of the environment-friendly project.