Anantnag, Jun 3: Vital irrigation canals are being encroached upon in Anantnag and Kulgam districts of south Kashmir, rendering thousands of kanals of agricultural land useless. Locals allege that over the last decade or so, illegal structures have mushroomed over these water bodies and the authorities have been watching in silence, these precious water resources being vandalised.
“People have been busy erecting bathrooms, kitchens and shops over these irrigation canals, hindering the water flow to a great extent. These encroachments are for everybody to see but I don’t understand why the authorities choose to be mum,” said Mohd Ashraf, a resident of Harnag area, here in Anantnag.
He says over the last three years, his agricultural land in the nearby Muniwar village has been rendered useless as it does not get sufficiently irrigated during the harvest season.
“This is not the only case. At least 1,500 kanals of agricultural land in the adjoining villages of Khahpur, TB Shah, Chirhama, Hanji Danter, Nawathoo, Mirbazar and many other villages share the same fate,” said Ashraf.
The source of their irrigation canal, the Sandran Nalla, lies in the Mirbazar area and right from the source uptill these villages, nearly a 10-kilometre stretch, a large number of illegal structures have come up during the last decade or so.
Reports say that more or less, same is the case with Kulgam district. “We get our land irrigated from the waters of the Vaishav Nalla; however, over the last five to six years, these encroachments have been like a nightmare for the agricultural community of the district,” said Mohd Ramzan, a resident of Qaimoh area in district Kulgam.
Locals say there are encroachments galore all along the Vaishav Nalla, forcing them to find alternative sources of irrigation, which turns out to be costly as well as time-consuming.
“Many of the farmers have chosen to sell their agricultural land, and invested elsewhere because of this problem,” said Mohd Ibrahim.