Despite developing most modern techniques of agricultural activities including irrigation system, the fact remains that Indian agriculture even today depends mostly on the rainfall particularly the monsoon rains that come in summer. Failure of monsoon rains is a big problem and the Government is usually very much concerned of its impact on farmers. The same is true of our State. It is a great paradox that despite having major rivers in Northern India flowing through the territories of our state, yet we cannot escape the wrath of the nature when summer rains are withdrawn earlier. That is precisely what happened this summer.
The monsoons withdrew from our State around 2nd of September which is at least two weeks earlier than the usual date of withdrawal. Thus since September 2 we are faced with a dry spell which is not at all conducive to our agriculture. Because of early withdrawal of rains the water level in our rivers especially Chenab has fallen low. Its adverse result is that the four premier water canals of Jammu that are the main irrigation feeders for our farmlands all have much reduced water flow than what is required. This has caused panic among the farmers for whom the canals are the life line. The worst is that according to weatherman the present dry spell will continue for another 15 days at least as there is no sign of any weather disturbance in the western hemisphere. This has brought despair to our farmers as they fear that most of the crops will fail by that time. Irrigation Department authorities assert that those farmers who are dependent upon Ranbir Canal for irrigation are the worst affected as command area of this canal is much more than that of other three canals. Ranbir Canal helps in irrigating 38608 hectares of agricultural land and due to 50 percent flow of water over 19000 hectares of land is without water at present. Water shortage is bound to adversely affect the production of world famous Basmati rice in some parts of Jammu.
Shortfall in summer rain is not the result of any human error; it is a natural phenomenon and perhaps human beings are unable to do much to stop it. Nevertheless, the State Government and the Agricultural Department need to gear up to meet the challenge that is more than visible now. It is now that a plan of overcoming the impending draught should be formulated at top level in the Government and all the departments concerned with relief work for the farmers should be alerted to make their respective contribution. It is also a warning that all efforts have to be made to conserve water as the life line for all of us. Nothing should be done that would lead to the depletion of water level of our water bodies. Digging wells for making water available for irrigation is meaningful only when the water level remain stable. Below certain level it is not possible to depend on tubewells as well.
Since the situation of water for irrigation is becoming critical, we implore the Government to gear up for relief work to the farmers in the event of serious threat to the crops and disaster that can follow.