By PNA and U.S. News Agency / Asian
The government- owned Aganan-Sta Barbara River Irrigation System (RIS) based at Brgy. Igtambo, San Miguel, Iloilo is being rocked by squabbles among family members who own the one kilometer square lot where the RIS is located.
This was admitted by Aganan RIS Superintendent Melchor Bajande as rehabilitation and improvement of the system is being put on hold due to the conflict among members of the Sale family.
Bajande said they could not institute rehabilitation works immediately at the site as they are hampered by a notice of the family to get back the land where the San Miguel dam sits.
The RIS superintendent said that as of now, they could not show any legal document showing a deed of donation from the family or documents of ownership of the area by the National Irrigation Administration (NIA).
Bajande also admitted a drastic decrease in the collection of irrigation service fees from about 3,000 farmers served in the service area as 35 percent of farmers served do not pay their irrigation fees anymore.
The agricultural areas also dropped as more housing subdivisions and commercial establishments flock the area, thereby decreasing the irrigation coverage.
Of the more than 5,000 hectares of service covered farms, the RIS is currently serving less than 4,000 hectares. Since then, the service area decreased every year and the irrigation service fees also went down, Bajande told the visiting media at the site.
The Aganan RIS and San Miguel dam were built as an overflow ogee type in 1922, and the last rehabilitation was in 1984. Service area covers the farming sector of the municipalities of San Miguel, Oton, Sta Barbara and part of Iloilo City.
Bajande also said the Aganan RIS must not be blamed for floods devastating some areas, including Iloilo City, as the dam gates are not opened during typhoons and heavy rains. The floods were caused mainly by more rains that overflow to the city, he said.
The NIA is also contemplating of turning over the RIS operation to local farmer irrigators associations as retrenchment of personnel continues and there are only13 workers left out of the original 50.