Bhutan has issued a clarification regarding media allegations that the country has stopped the supply of irrigation water to areas in Assam. It called these reports “totally baseless” and a “deliberate attempt by vested interests to cause misunderstanding between the friendly people of Bhutan & Assam”.
The response came after reports of farmers of the adjoining areas of Tamulpur, Baksa district in Assam, near the Bhutan border of Kalipur, Bogajuli, Kalandi leaving their fields to protests on roads. The farmers of areas in the vicinity of Bhutan including Samdrop Jhankar in Assam, India are dependent on the Kalindi river as they operate on a rain-fed irrigation model.
The locals divert the water from Kalindi by creating passages through mud and stones and direct the water through drains which they later use to carry on their farming activities. Since this is a delicate way to direct water, it requires continuous maintenance. As such, the locals themselves maintain the set up. “Due to the lockdown, we have not been able to go to Bhutan as International Borders are closed. After the heavy rains, the passage has been disrupted and now we have no supply of water” said a protester.
Bhutan initially repaired the passage, but following the recent heavy rains, have stopped doing it. As a result, the local farmers from the Assam side have no water to plough their land.
Inside Northeast reported it correctly. However, some segments of media reported it to be a case of Bhutan blocking water to Assam and few even questioned India-Bhutan diplomatic relations.
Assam Chief Secretary Kumar Sanjay Krishna on Thursday clarified through a tweet that reports of Bhutan blocking water supply to India are incorrect, rather the neighbouring country is helping to clear the blockage. The Chief Secretary stated that the actual reason is the natural blockage of informal irrigation channels into Indian fields.
The incident has revealed how damaging sensationalism and irresponsible reporting can be.
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