Irrigation is critical for crop production in Bangladesh and the heart of most irrigation systems are pumps.
There are 15 pumps – three main devices and 12 subsidiaries – in the Ganges-Kobadak Irrigation Project or GK Project – a large surface irrigation system set up by the Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB) on the right bank of the River Ganges – the River Padma in Bangladesh.
The pumps – with a total lifting capacity of 153 cumec – are used to draw water from the Padma through an intake channel to supply it to the fields by gravity canals.
GK, the first major step in Bangladesh to provide supplemental irrigation to traditional rice varieties, covers an area of 197,500 hectares in Kushtia, Chuadanga, Jhenaidaha and Magura districts.
Thirteen upazilas – Kushtia Sadar, Kumarkhali, Khoksa, Mirpur, Bheramara, Chuadanga, Alamdanga, Jhenaidaha, Harinakunda, Shailkupa, Magura Sadar, Sreepur and Daulatpur – are served by the project in two seasons.
However, the project, the largest lift-cum-gravity irrigation system in the country, largely missed its targets – raising food production, cropping intensity; improving cropping patterns and the socio-economic conditions of the farmers.
It is facing multiple setbacks both at the implementation and operational stages like other irrigation projects in Bangladesh.
Hundreds of farmers in four districts of the Khulna division have been deprived of irrigation facilities from the project for years. GK is now in the grip of land grabbers, mismanagement, and negligence.
The area of the project is shrinking day by day as land sharks continue to fill up the irrigation canals. Now only 116,000 hectares of land of GK is net irrigable.
Also, as there is no proper drainage system, most of the water supplied from the project is wasted. The system needs to be improved to prevent waterlogging of low lands as well.