Battambang provincial authorities and residents are fixing a partly broken dam in Svay Cheat village, in Sangke district’s Raing Kesei commune, after farmers breached it to irrigate their paddy fields.
Provincial technical officials said some farmers secretly and illegally broke the canal system to supply water to their farmland, causing the dam to collapse.
Huot Chandararith, chief of the provincial Department of Water Resources and Meteorology administrative office, said on Sunday that the canal system was constructed following technical standards using strong concrete.
He said it connected with farmland irrigation systems in Banan, Kors Kralor and Moung Russey districts.
“This unlawful breaking of the main canal by some farmers devastated the irrigation system and caused a dam to collapse in Svay Cheat village,” Chandararith said, adding that his department’s patrolling officers were on a break at the time.
A Department of Water Resources and Meteorology report obtained by The Post on Sunday said technical officials have discovered 13 holes in the canal system.
The report said the holes were mostly dug not by small farmers but by those with 20-80ha of land. The holes were made from 20cm to 80cm above the bottom of the canal, causing water to flow out strongly and part of a dam to collapse, it said.
“Technical officials told the farmers to request the relevant departments to help them dig the canal in a standard way, but they did not follow their advice.
“We cannot prevent this sort of thing unless there is stricter law enforcement,” the report read.
It said the current issue had been resolved on Wednesday when the farmers agreed to stop interfering with the canal. However, they requested the authorities to construct a new dam so they can water farmland that is far away from the main canal.
Tuol Mates community leader Penh Phoeut said his community had been working to help improve the water supply to the main canal system.
“While some areas are flooded by too much rain, more than 8,000ha of community farmland faces drought. Therefore, our community is digging in the main canal to provide enough water,” he said.
Phoeut said the authorities have warned they will take stern action against any illegal interference with the canal system and a team of expert officials had been pouring concrete to repair the holes.
He said residents cooperated with the authorities on Sunday afternoon by helping to transport sand, cement and soil to reconstruct the 3m by 1m part of the collapsed dam.
Chandararith said: “We are very grateful for the citizens’ participation to preserve and repair this main canal.”