By Khamphone Syvongxay
May 9, 2012
A large scale irrigation project to water 2,000 hectares of rice fields in 18 villages in Savannakhet province is well underway, funded by a US$50 million soft loan from the Chinese government (Chinese Ex-Im Bank).
Construction of the Xe Saralong irrigation system in Thapangthong district began at the start of this year and is now about 10 percent complete, provincial irrigation section head Mr Khamlouy Nhardtivong told Vientiane Times yesterday.
The construction contract has been awarded to the China Gezsouba Group Company and work is expected to be complete in 2014.
The basin irrigation system will utilise natural rock formations to create a 1.8km long reservoir, which will be 60 metres wide and 21 metres high, with a concrete dam wall to retain the water in the reservoir.
The reservoir will have a capacity of 75 million cubic metres, capable of storing a large amount of water to supply the downstream farms. The capacity of the reservoir will allow for gravity fed irrigation, meaning no pumps will be required.
The downstream irrigation canals will include 12.85km of main channel and 9.4km of feeder channel.
About 70 households in Kaeng Khay and Kharm Piak villages, which are situated in the basin area, will have to be relocated to land allocated by the district authorities.
The Xe Saralong irrigation project received government approval over 10 years ago but was delayed for technical reasons. It was transferred to a Chinese contractor in order to get the project moving, Mr Khamlouy said.
He said the province already had irrigated land supplied by dams in upland areas, though these were smaller schemes. He cited existing irrigation systems such as the Houay Thaud project in Champhone district which supplies water to 1,000 hectares of land and the Houay Bak project which supplies water to 500 hectares.
Mr Khamlouy said that once complete the Xe Saralong irrigation scheme will contribute significantly to the province’s efforts to enlarge the dry season rice crop. He believed the project would yield a harvest of one million tonnes by 2015, as targeted in the provincial plan.
Irrigation systems in Savannakhet province can currently supply water to around 30,000 hectares of rice in the dry season and 50,000 hectares in the rainy season.