Cairo: Egypt’s irrigation authorities have vowed on-the-spot fines for illegal cultivation of water-intense rice as fears grow in the populous country over cuts in its water share due to a disputed Ethiopian Nile dam.
Minister of Water and Irrigation Mohammed Abdul Atti has ordered irrigation inspectors to crack down on unlawful cultivation of rice and to immediately levy fines on violators for wasting water, Egyptian media reported.
The official said that the rice is one of the most water-consuming crops that negatively affect the irrigation network.
Authorities have said that 724,000 acres will be cultivated with the rice this year, compared to 1.1 million acres last year.
“Determining the area allowed for rice cultivation comes within the ministry’s policy to conserve our limited water resources,” the Ministry of Water and irrigation said.
A decade of talks between Egypt and Ethiopia has failed to resolve a dispute over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam built on the Nile.
Egyptian officials have repeatedly blamed Ethiopia for the impasse and accused Addis Ababa of playing for time.
The Ethiopian dam has triggered wide fears in Egypt, which relies heavily on the Nile to cover the water needs of its population of over 100 million people.
Ethiopia has repeatedly denied Egyptians’ worries and defended its construction of the 5-billion-dollar dam as being vital for its development and lifting its population of around 107 million out of poverty.