It may be mentioned that the state government had taken up several projects to develop the irrigation system in North Bengal. But the idea of using the water of the rivers coming down the hills has been mooted to increase the supply of water for better production of crops and to ensure sufficient supply of water even during the summer.
After coming to power for the second term, the North Bengal Development department has set its priority in terms of development. Besides taking steps for an overall development, stress will be given on industrialisation, agriculture and tourism and sufficient supply of water round the year is essential for both industries and agriculture.
Rabindranath Ghosh, the North Bengal Development minister, said there are 72 river channels having their origin in Bhutan enter Bangladesh after passing through West Bengal. The water of those rivers remained unutilised for any purpose of the state till date. Thus there is a plan to utilise the same water for the purpose of agriculture and pisciculture in the seven districts in North Bengal.
“The plan is to set up sluice gates and small dams at certain points so that the water can be reserved and used according to the demand. The sluice gates will be closed at a particular time of a year so that sufficient water gets reserved for agriculture during drought season. The gates will be kept open during monsoon,” he said adding that the reserved water will be passed to the agriculture land through canals.
At the same time it will also be channelised to water bodies like big ponds and lakes as per the capacity where fish cultivation can take place. Similar model to keep the water bodies filled up to the required level was taken up in Andhra Pradesh and the same method will be used in North Bengal as well. It will give a boost to the fish trade in West Bengal. Even, “short time” fish cultivation can also be undertaken in the water bodies.
The initiative will also help to increase the yield of crops as the water of the river channels flowing down from hills is rich in minerals and there is no question of iron in it. The underground water that is being lifted for irrigation is rich in iron and has an effect on the cultivation of crops. Thus, the idea of using the water of the river channels will not only make water available round the year for cultivation, but also the quality and quantity of the crops will go up. At the same time, the level of the underground water will also not get disturbed for excessive lifting.
Ghosh said that a master plan will be prepared for the project and there will be talks with the state irrigation and agriculture department in this regard soon. It would be one time investment for the benefits of the people of North Bengal.