NIA shells out P100M to repair Chico River irrigation system
TABUK CITY—Repair work has begun on the 260-meter section of Upper Chico River Irrigation System (UCRIS) that was severely damaged last month by Typhoon “Ineng,” after the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) released an initial P50 million from its emergency fund.
The damage has delayed the planting season of Tabuk rice farmers.
Part of the money would plug a hole torn open by NIA personnel to relieve the flooded irrigation canal in Barangay Calanan here.
NIA had to breach the embankment walls of the system’s discharge channel or waste way because a government contractor failed to install the mechanism that would have controlled the flow of water.
John Socalo, NIA Cordillera director, said the initial fund would be spent on the repair of the canal itself while another P50 million would be used to build a wasteway and additional embankment support.
The huge tear in the canal walls diverted water flowing through the canal toward the Chico River some 30 meters away, and prevented flooding in several downstream communities, said Benito Espique, NIA Kalinga provincial officer.
Socalo said the repair, a 110-day work program which began on Sept. 2, would ensure that irrigation water would serve farmers in the next cropping season.
The UCRIS Federation of Irrigators’ Association, composed of farmers from this city and Pinukpuk town, blamed the contractor of the P425-million World Bank-assisted rehabilitation project of UCRIS for the damaged facility.
Had the contractor installed the water gates last year, water from the swollen Chico River would have been shut out and would never have entered the canal when Ineng struck the city.
Due to the damaged UCRIS, Espique said farmers in the 11,000-hectare service area would lose an average of 80-100 cavans of palay per hectare in potential harvests. Estanislao Albano Jr., Inquirer Northern Luzon Contributor