CANDABA—- A lawmaker called for the government to speed up the construction of a 17-meter giant canal, which would supply water to some 3,000 hectares of rice crops affected by the ongoing dry spell.

The irrigation canal located at the Lower Maasim Canal would connect the Upper Pampanga Irrigation System (Upris) and the Angat Maasim River Irrigation System (Amris), a congresswoman said.

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Representative Anna York Bondoc-Sagum, who conducted an inspection of the canal construction Thursday, called on the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) and the National Government to expedite the construction of the canal to help save farmers from losing their crops.

“This canal project is an urgent effort to bring water to the Amris. Though the government is saying that domestic consumption of water is important, we must also recognize the fact that food security is also a vital concern especially among farmers here faced with the El Niño problem,” Sagum said.

With the construction of the canal, water from the Casecnan System in Quirino Province will flow to the Pantabangan Dam in Nueva Ecija then to the Penaranda River to the Lower Maasim Dam and will connect to the Amris System through the Lower Maasim Canal.

The water from the Amris instigation system will be diverted by NIA to Metro Manila and the Manila Waterways and Sewerage System for consumption in the towns of San Luis, Candaba, San Simon and Apalit, which are threatened to lose its rice produce in a week.

Department of Agriculture Regional Director Redentor Gatus told Sun.Star Pampanga that the construction of the gigantic canal runs 24 hours in San Ildefonso, Bulacan and Candaba and is expected to finish on March 20.

Sagum expressed her worry that the project may face funding and right-of-way problems.

In a recent statement sent to Sun.Star Pampanga Thursday, concerned farmers said it would be a “countdown to calamity” if the project won’t finish on time.

Meanwhile, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo released some P10 million worth of shallow tube wells to farmers in Pampanga and Central Luzon. (Ian Ocampo Flora)