Falaj Al Marad < OMAN EXPLORER

The rejuvenation of Falaj al Marad

The importance of Falaj al Marad is significant in the lives of the people of Al Draiz village in the wilayat of Ibri. In fact, the falaj had sustained the farming community in this small green village until the 90s when the indigenous water channel turned truant, inexorably affecting the lush plantations of date palms and other crops. The turn of events was inexplicable, leaving the people with no solution in sight. The fertile lands turned hostile and healthy date palms began to wither away. During the 80s, the falaj sourced adequate water to keep everyone happy. In the 90s, the flow began to dwindle and in 96, it dried up completely.

 


The heavy flow of Falaj al Marad

The farmers were hard hit and the only thing they could do was to pray to the Almighty to answer their prayers for water. The government, meanwhile, did its best to alleviate the misery of the people by pumping water from a nearby area. This however, was insufficient to irrigate the lands. In May 97, the miracle happened and skies opened, lavishing the lands with unstoppable rains. The phenomenal rains led to the flooding of the nearby Wadi al Kabir, which then submerged parts of the town. Strangely, despite the massive rains, Falaj al Marad was still not showing any signs of revival and the only water that flowed through it was that which flowed into it from overground. This curious phenomenon made the authorities to sit up and wonder whatever had happened to the falaj.

 


A water-logged date palm plantation in Al Draiz village


A luxuriant farm of date palms in Al Draiz village

Experts were summoned and they immediately found out that the falaj was blocked somewhere and hence the water was not flowing through it. Now, the most difficult thing was to locate the block.

The job was not easy as at some places the falaj ran underground at depths of 10 metres. Getting to such depths was not at all easy and a massive search was undertaken to pinpoint the block.

Falaj al Marad runs seven km underground from the mother spring before making its first surface appearance. Digging was undertaken at the suspected spots and the blockage was eventually traced.

The water gushed forth like a roaring river and ever since has been flowing at full pace in the falaj. The rejuvenation of Falaj al Marad was celebrated with much gaiety by Al Draiz villagers.

There was singing and dancing and firing of guns, besides camel and horse races to mark the nature's bounty.


Date palms stand against all odds
due to water-logging

The celebrations were spontaneous as till a few days ago, they had traversed to nearby areas to fetch water even for their household use, not to speak of irrigation water, which was only a dream those days. The drought scenario had all of a sudden changed dramatically and there was abundance of water now for them as well as the farmlands.

The falaj water began to gradually increase and there was definitely all reasons to be joyous. People loved to have an early morning bath in the falaj water as it was very warm. The scenic setting of the date palm plantations pulsated with life due to the gushing falaj, which in some spots ran like a river.

This remarkable transformation was, however, short-lived as the villagers of Al Draiz were soon beset with another shock of their life, this time strangely from abundance of water, Rashid bin Mohammed al Ghafri, whose father owns farmlands, said.

 

 

After the ’97 rains and the subsequent rejuvenation of Falaj al Marad, the people of Al Draiz had thought that their days of troubles were over.

However, the flow of water in the falaj increased day by day and slowly began to overflow into the date palm plantations.

One hoped that it would be a temporary phenomenon. However, it was not to be so. Meanwhile, in some farmlands, springs gushed forth and led to water logging in date plantations.

The water-logged farms are a nightmare to farmers as many date palms in them have begun to rot. The farmers have made representations to the authorities concerned regarding their problems, but are yet to find a way out of their predicament.

The government is not in a position to provide a quick solution as the problem of water-logging cannot be tackled easily. If lack of water was the problem faced by the farmers earlier, now the excess of it is plaguing them. They are hoping for a way out of the difficult situation.