• Dispute delays Tarlac mega dam project

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    TARLAC: A brewing dispute between the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) and the local government unit (LGU) of San Jose here resulted in another round of delay for the construction of Balog-Balog mega-dam in Barangay Maamot.

    NIA-Tarlac spokesman Edgar Ubaldo revealed this after their office received reports that heavy equipment transporting construction materials are being accosted by policemen allegedly on orders of local officials.

    Ubaldo said they were informed that the LGU is mandating NIA to comply with necessary requirements before pushing through with the project.

    Such requirements include list of names of affected families entitled for disturbance compensation, land titles to be paid, a Sangguniang Bayan (SB) land re-classification resolution, barangay (village) resolution of no objection for the project, and an amended environmental compliance certificate (ECC).

    To hasten the requirements, the SB passed a resolution for the temporary work stoppage of the project.
    Municipal officials earlier pointed out that for the project to be realized, the NIA has to apply with the re-classification of land in Barangay Sula where about 970 families from Barangay Maamot would be relocated.

    In response, NIA sent a letter-request to the SB to lift the resolution after meeting the requirements. It also requested the Department of Agrarian Reform for the classification of the proposed 64-hectare resettlement site.
    While waiting for its amendment, Ubaldo said, the ECC issued by the Environmental Management Bureau in 1992 remains valid and effective.

    NIA chief Ricardo Visaya recently led the time capsule laying for the construction of the P13.37-billion project with Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco and local officials here.

    The 105.5-meter high dam with three cascading sections each at 25 meters high and a crest length of 1.4 kilometers, will have a storage capacity of 560 million cubic meters and occupy 28,076 hectares as watershed and is eyed to irrigate more than 34,000 hectares of agricultural lands.

    The new irrigation facility was designed to irrigate a wide area of agricultural lands in the province of Tarlac with target completion of construction in three years.

    To benefit from the irrigation system are the towns of Paniqui, Pura, Ramos, Victoria, Gerona, San Jose, La Paz, Capas, Concepcion and Tarlac City.

    The NIA pointed out that the dam is projected to increase rice production by nearly 178 percent from 126,480 metric tons to 350,980 metric tons that will support at least 23,000 farmers and the rice per capita consumption of Tarlac residents as well as provide inland fish production.

    It will also generate at least 43.5 megawatts of electricity through a hydro-electric facility.

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