Thursday, 8 April 2010

Tan to build more mini-dams

with Othel Campos
Manila Standard

Tycoon Lucio C. Tan has pledged to build more mini-dams and water basins to help mitigate the impact of El Nino in Northern Luzon, a major source of tobacco leaf supply for his cigarette-making company.

Tan, 76, made the commitment during the inauguration of his latest water impounding project in Casilagan Norte, Banayoyo, Ilocos Sur on Good Friday, his company said in a statement it issued Tuesday.

In another development, the National Irrigation Administration plans to waive the irrigation fee on drought-hit farmers or those whose farms yield lower than 40 cavans of unmilled rice per hectare. The El Nino has destroyed P9 billion worth of crops, according to official estimate, prompting the administration to embark on remedial measures such as building of mini-dams and diverting river water to irrigation systems.

The eighth mini dam restored by the tycoon in the last five years, the Casilagan Norte diversion dam is capable of storing 60,000 cubic meters of water. It was designed to serve 120 hectares of rice and tobacco farmlands even through the dry summer months.

“I have instructed our team of soil and water experts to design and build eight more of such dams,” Tan told a group of local officials, Ilocano farmers and their children.

From Banayoyo, Tan flew to San Juan, also in Ilocos Sur to inspect the site of a new water catchment basin which will soon be constructed by his cigarette-making companyFortune Tobacco Corporation and Tan Yan Kee Foundation in partnership with the San Juan municipal government.

After Ilocos Sur, Tan and his team proceeded to Batac, Ilocos Norte to inspect the Quiling Norte-Abkir Diversion Dam in Batac, hometown of the late president Ferdinand Marcos.

Although encouraged by the success of his water dam projects, Tan said he wants to see proper water utilization and better designs for the water catchment basins to prevent water seepage and too much evaporation. He said based on expectations, stored water in the mini dams were supposed to last until end March but it was already depleted as early as February.

“We need a better lining of clay and stones to prevent water seepage. I also want our engineers to study whether we need a protective cover to reduce evaporation levels,” said Tan.

The tycoon said he is building and rehabilitating mini dams to set an example that it doesn’t take much to store water that will enable farmers to plant even during the dry season. More importantly, he said his project teaches water conservation, helps farmers enhance productivity and provides extra sources of livelihood.

Onboard two helicopters, Tan and his project advisers flew from his summer home in Baguio City toward Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte.

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