Agriculture group backs Iloilo, Ilocos dam projects
ILOILO CITY—A nationwide coalition of farmers and irrigation associations is pushing for the completion of an P11.2-billion mega-dam project in Iloilo province that is being questioned in the Supreme Court.
Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (Sinag) has called on the government and the Supreme Court to allow the Jalaur River Multipurpose Project in Calinog town in Iloilo to proceed.
“We believe that the project is critical in achieving the government’s target for rice self-sufficiency,” Sinag president Rosendo So told the Inquirer.
So, former representative of the Abono party-list group, said the project would significantly boost irrigation of farmlands and benefit thousands of farmers.
The Supreme Court on Oct. 31 last year issued a writ of kalikasan against the project but did not stop it.
The project, set to be completed by 2016, involves the construction of three dams (Jalaur reservoir, afterbay and catch dams), a 6.6-megawatt hydro power plant and an 81-kilometer high line canal in Calinog town in Iloilo.
It is aimed at developing irrigation systems, generating hydro electric power and providing domestic and industrial water supply.
It is funded by a $203-million official development assistance by the South Korean government with a counterpart fund from the Philippine government amounting to P2.2 billion.
In a statement, Sinag said another project in Barbar, Ilocos Sur province, was being delayed unreasonably. The project, said So, could lead to an increase in palay production of at least 200,000 bags per year.
National Irrigation Administration regional manager Gerardo Corsiga said Korean consultants were coming up with a detailed engineering design for the Iloilo dam project that is expected to be completed in August 2016. He said the construction of the project would start next year unless ordered otherwise by the high court.
A study by Ricardo Javelosa, considered the country’s first geomorphologist (geomorphy is the study of land formations), said the benefits of the dam were not commensurate with the destruction that it would cause.
His study has been cited in the Supreme Court case.
President Aquino led groundbreaking rites for the Iloilo dam in February last year, heaping praises on the project.
“The minute that this project is completed, 43 percent of agricultural land in Iloilo can be irrigated,” the President was quoted as saying in reports on the groundbreaking ceremony last year.
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