Malaysia: Relief for Kerian farmers as water released for agricultural activities

M. HAMZAH JAMALUDIN New Straits Times 17 May 16;

BAGAN SERAI: The Irrigation and Drainage Department (DID) has resumed water supply for agricultural activities in the Kerian district after the water level at Bukit Merah dam reached 7.8 metres today.

The department has temporarily stopped releasing water for plantation and padi field irrigation since April 25, when the Bukit Merah lake was seriously affected by the drought brought about by the El Nino phenomenon.

State Public Utilities, Infrastructure, Energy and Water Committee chairman Datuk Zainol Fadzi Paharudin said the affected farmers can now replant their padi fields with new seedlings.

"Although the water level is still within the precautionary range, DID has already released the water from the Bukit Merah dam to the padi fields," he said after launching a road safety campaign at Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan (SMK) Mudzaffar Shah Semanggol, near here today.

The programme is part of the state government's four-day "pemukiman" (meet-the-people) programme at Kerian district from today.

Zainol said continuous rainfall over the past weeks had helped increase the water level at Bukit Merah dam between 15cm and 17cm daily.

To overcome the problem in the future, he said the state government had several plans including building a water channel from Sungai Perak to Sungai Kerian, which costs RM300 million.

At the same time, he said the Perak Water Board also planned to implement the river bank filtration system to help derive underground water in the affected area in Kerian.

The recent El Nino phenomenon has adversely affected 22,000ha padi fields and more than 200,000 people in the Kerian district when the water level at Bukit Merah lake, which is the main water source here, dropped to critical level for several months.

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