Monday, December 31, 2007
A week is a long time even in farming (not only politics)
The photo shows the way the water reaches my property from the pipe, and this is taken around mid night that day when the water was flowing rapidly once our dead of night operation was carried out.
Only last week that is up till Christmas day we had 14 days of continuous rain, which killed more than 200 of my papaya plants as the root system rotted. My paddy (rice) fields were not flooded and so were fine. On Saturday, Dec 29th my fields began to crack, with the sunshine that came since, and the water that had been sent through the irrigation canals from the Minneriya tank (large lake) did not reach me. I needed water to fill the fields, so that I could spread some much needed fertilizer to help my rice plants grow healthily.
The intricate irrigation system from the tank is by way of gravity fed system of main canals and sub canals into the fields. The water that feeds me and my neighbours is a tributary sub canal from a main canal. I am at the end of this sub canal. So often if the water flow is not adequately sent from the sluice in the main canal I do not get any water after all the people ahead of me take their allocation.
I went to investigate if I could get some water by diverting and shutting off some of my neighbors supplies with their consent. At one neighbours pole,(water pipe that feeds his fields) I followed the water to his field, and was horrified that all the water ( a substantial amount) was going through his field straight to the river. I made a big stink at this neighbours field, saying that neither is he using the water, nor letting his neighbour who desperately wants water have it, and let the people around know the score that it was not morally right, even though I had no legal way of stopping his water entitlement at the moment even if he is misusing it.
The locals (as I am a newcomer having only arrived on the scene 15 months ago)did not like it one bit when I was dressing down their neighbour. I stood my ground as the locals benefit from my being there, and all of them were paid handsomely to transplant the paddy but now are not letting me have water to ensure the transplanted plants are well nursed, implying there was some cussedness mixed with envy.
Such as it may be they got the message that I was not going without a fight and was not afraid of anyone, I sleep in open veranda while they all sleep inside locked houses!!!
On a practical note that night, one of my staff Gamini and I at around 11pm, prepared an improvised contraption,(see photo below of Gamini making it in the dead of night by lamp light) and went up to the main channel to artificially increase the level of the water so a larger volume would flow into the our canal and I partially,shut some of our neighbours water pipes so I could get the necessary water before daylight. This is the time that all the alcoholics in the area are asleep, they wake up around 1am from their alcohol induced stupor so we could carry out this job in relative safety. Of the neighbourhood dogs bark, but the neighbours are either asleep or watching TV.
This being successful we had to spend the next few hours in the dead of night, ensuring the channels of water that go into each of my fields was getting the necessary water so that we could carry out our work in the morning. It was after 2am when we were able to get any sleep that night.
This is a true life drama enacted by desperate farmers risking their skins, every day in some part of the country in similar situations when appealing to reason fails, and drastic measures have to be adopted.
Of course I still had to be up at 5am to get on with my work of getting my supplies to take to town for the next days sales, and saw on our way out, that our scheme had been discovered and the contraption was removed to ensure free flow and accordingly no flow to us, by which time we achieved our goal if only for that day!!