As many as 250 farmers in Jhenidah’s Kaliganj upazila are paying a heavy price as bureaucratic tangles among three organisations left their irrigation solar pumps, six in total, in ruins for the last three years.
The pumps were set up at Hardebpur Garar Beel in 2014 under a project implemented by local nongovernmental organisation (NGO) AID Foundation, with assistance from government organisation Infrastructure Development Company Limited (IDCOL). The equipment for the irrigation systems was supplied by Energypac Green Solutions.
By 2016, all six pumps went out of order one after another, but their supplier refused to repair those due to non-payment.
Ever since all the pumps stopped functioning, the farmers have been incurring huge loss without any means of irrigation for Irri or Boro paddy on a vast tract of land, around 500 bighas. A handful of them have been making a meagre living by hiring shallow pumps to cultivate winter crops that require minimal irrigation.
AID Foundation Managing Director Tarikul Islam Palash, however, did not take responsibility for the situation. Rather, he said the NGO already cleared 70 percent of the payment for the project, but it was Energypac that stopped conducting maintenance of the pumps for their unpaid dues from IDCOL.
Local IDCOL official did not respond to repeated calls made by this correspondent on his cellphone, while Energypac official Mohammad Aktaruzzaman could not be reached for comments as his phone was found unreachable.
Many farmers said they were happy with the environment-friendly solar pumps for their low noise. Most importantly, the pumps greatly lowered their production cost as they no longer needed to spend any money on fuel or electricity to operate those, as opposed to conventional shallow pumps.
But unfortunately, before the solar pumps started malfunctioning, the farmers had already sold their old irrigation pumps.
Moni Kumar and Sunil Shikdar, two farmers from Hardebpur village, said they sold the old shallow pumps without anticipating such situation. But now, after the solar pumps stopped working, they could not afford to buy new pumps for irrigation again.
Uday Shankar Biswas, president of Hardebpur Village Farmers’ Association, said the farmers were immensely benefited by the solar pumps that provided a cost-effective solution to them with abundant water for irrigation.
In their effort to draw attention of the authorities concerned, they submitted memorandums to Jhenidah-4 lawmaker Anwarul Azim, Kaliganj Upazila Nirbahi Officer Subarna Rani Saha and Upazila Agriculture Officer Jahid Hossain.
But as yet, nothing has happened to this effect, he added.