There are many loopholes in the operation of irrigation and drainage throughout Ha Noi, Nguyen Vinh Lien, director of the Ha Noi Irrigation Department, told Ha Noi Moi (New Ha Noi) newspaper.
What is the current status of the city's water pumping stations?
Ha Noi has a very complicated geography - a mix of mountainous and midland regions and the delta. The city has about 216,000ha of land for rice cultivation, 5,500ha for aquaculture and about 90,000ha for subsidiary crops.
To serve agricultural production, the city now has five irrigation development companies controlling the Nhue River, Day River, Ha Noi, Me Linh and Tich River, plus nearly 1,000 agricultural co-operatives and service co-operatives. Their duty is to irrigate 133,373ha of cultivated land.
The functions of irrigation companies and co-operatives are totally separate. The agricultural and service co-operatives undertake inner-field irrigation. Areas outside the irrigation system are in charge of the irrigation companies.
Some people complain about the poor performance of pumping stations operated by the co-operatives, adding that it is due to weak maintenance work. What do you think?
I have to concede that the poor technical skills of operators at the co-operatives' pumping stations have been created by poor management and operations - as well as the protection of the irrigation projects themselves. This is the weakest point and we have to overcome it.
At present, the costs of running and managing State irrigation companies come from the State budget. The Government partly funds irrigation service providers - the co-operatives to operate irrigation works (for example, canals and pumping stations). To get water from the sluices to inner-field irrigation systems, farmers pay a fee to the service providers.
With such a financial mechanism, the co-operatives have insufficient money to improve or rehabilitate their pumping stations and sluices.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD has told irrigation companies to develop their cost norms for operating and managing, including the production means, labour force and machineries. The instructions do not mention a single line about the co-operatives.
This, again, puts the co-operatives in disadvantageous positions for the services they have rendered. The constant shortage of money to do maintenance work has seriously affected the operation and service quality of the co-operatives.
What management methods should Ha Noi adopt to enable the service of both the irrigation companies and co-operatives to improve their performance?
First of all, the authorities should take actions to improve the water irrigation and drainage system and make a rational use of the water resources.
It is imperative to issue a standard manual guidebook for the technicians to follow - and to adopt an incentive policy for workers.
It is also imperative to consolidate the inner-field irrigation infrastructure to make the service of the co-operatives more effective and efficient.
In addition, we should step up the communication campaign to raise people's awareness about the enforcement of the Ordinance on the Protection and Exploitation of Irrigation Works.
A detailed development plan for the City's irrigation system for agriculture must be based on City's Master Plan for Water Irrigation and Drainage Work from now till 2020 and a vision to 2030. — VNS