Hundreds of horticultural farmers in Mirzaabad, Oqoltin and Sardoba districts of Syrdarya region lost their trees and crops as a result of the collapse of the Sardoba reservoir dam. Although a year and a half has passed, about 20 billion soums of damage has not been covered yet.
When we hear the name of the Sardoba reservoir, we think of a man-made disaster that has affected not only the people of Syrdarya, but also our entire nation and even neighboring Kazakhstan. Unfortunately, the damage caused by this disaster is still a concern for our citizens.
The appeal received by Kun.uz says that as a result of the demolition of the Sardoba reservoir dam, the saplings of hundreds of horticultural farms, their crops were washed away, and lands were destroyed.
Farmers in Mirzaabad, Oqoltin and Sardoba districts of Syrdarya region said that although more than 1.5 years had passed, their losses had not been reimbursed. Farmers appealed to the Senate of Oliy Majlis, the Cabinet of Ministers, the prosecutor’s office, district and regional administrations, as well as their agricultural departments and divisions on the same matter.
“My 11-year-old garden has flown. My 7.4-hectare orchard of plums and other fruits was flooded. Representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture inspected my gardens and made a protocol, they concluded that the garden should be demolished and rebuilt. Appraisal organizations calculated the loss of 412 million soums. I collected all the documents and first submitted them to the Sardoba district administration, then to the Syrdarya regional administration. They say it will be resolved sooner or later, but we still have no information about the reimbursement,” Rashid Mirzokulov, chairman of the “Rashidbek bogi” farm, said.
Makhbuba Ochilova, who has been farming for 21 years, had her 12-hectare garden flooded by 3 meters for several days. According to the farmer, more than 10,000 almond, walnut and other fruit seedlings have been washed away.
“Consulting organizations calculated the damage for 12 hectares of gardens at 286 million soums, and then, after an inspection from the region, it fell to 176 million soums.
None of the Sardoba district leaders is following the President’s instructions. If they did 50% of what the President said, Uzbekistan would flourish. Should a farmer work in the field, or chase after leaders? The condition of the land has deteriorated, large tractors have to be brought in to fix it, which requires money. Officials said they would give it last fall, then in the spring. 1.5 years have passed since then and there is still no money. We lost everything, we stayed in the clothes we wore during the flood,” Makhbuba Ochilova, chairwoman of the “Norin guli” farm, said.
In addition, farmers who have been working at a loss for more than a year are also harassed by the tax authorities.
“When the commission from Tashkent arrived, the heads of the regions and districts said that the losses would be compensated in turn. When we assessed the damage caused by the agricultural departments and divisions of the khokimiyats, we were told that it should be evaluated through the evaluation centers. Then we had to be assessed by private appraisal centers in Gulistan, but the money is still not being paid. The regional administration says that we need to wait again. Now farmers’ lands have become unusable and they are not able to plant seedlings or crops.
On top of that, the tax authorities are constantly asking us to pay taxes. The President said to freeze taxes and loans of entrepreneurs. But they say that even if we have lost money, we will pay big taxes tomorrow when we take the money,” Murod Najmiddinov, head of the “Khasanboy anorzori” farm, said.
“All the silt in the reservoir has accumulated on our lands. In addition, my 1.5-hectare apple orchard became unusable. After the flood, members of the regional and republican working groups came and saw with their own eyes how the field was flooded and how it was damaged. They have drawn up protocols.
Moreover, the tax authorities are repeatedly calling to pay the taxes. If I have not earned income from the land for two years, will I pay taxes by selling my goods? Do I have to feed my children, pay taxes, or work on the land?” the head of the “Chuldagi bedazor” farm Zokir Yunusov said.
We contacted the Syrdarya regional administration to comment on the situation. Nuriddin Usmanov, First Deputy Head of the Finance Department of the Syrdarya region, said that more than 1.7 trillion soums have been spent from the state budget to create housing and all necessary conditions for the population in the flood-affected areas of Sardoba. The board official said that after more than 120 farmers had assessed their losses through appraisal organizations, the government commission would decide on the allocation of money.
“A system has been set up by a government commission to compensate for the damage. According to it, these damages will first be studied by a working group formed by the district and city commissions, the amount of damage will be determined in kind and brought to the regional commission. After the regional commission also examines, these documents will be brought to the government commission and the relevant damages will be reimbursed.
Indeed, the losses of farmers engaged in horticulture and melon cultivation today have not yet been reimbursed. According to preliminary data, about 125 farmers on an area of 2,000 hectares have been affected by the man-made disaster. In this regard, instructions were given by the government commission and the regional administration, and the damage was determined in kind. We told farmers that independent consulting organizations should be contacted to assess each seedling, its yield and other damage at today’s market prices.
To date, partial appraisals have been carried out by farms. The remaining 80% of farms may not have completed or started appraisal work yet. Some may even see the originally drafted protocol as an evaluation document. The Ministry of Finance will reimburse the damage in cash. Therefore, the amount of damages initially determined will need to be provided by an independent appraisal organization. Once all the appraisals have been completed by all the farmers, we will submit these documents to the government commission and ask for money from the state budget. We will cover all the losses after the Ministry of Finance allocates the money,” Nuriddin Usmanov said.
According to Nuriddin Usmanov, in 2021, 93 billion soums were paid to flood-affected fisheries and 8.7 billion soums to livestock farms.
Also, the press service of the State Tax Committee commented on the matter, saying that no tax benefits were granted to farmers affected by the Sardoba flood.
Another responsible organization, the Council of Farmers, Dehkan Farms and Landowners of Uzbekistan, drew up a protocol on the damage in May this year. It has only provided legal explanations to farmers on damage assessment.
“It was found that the crops and orchards of the farms were damaged by the flood, but no protocols were drawn up on the amount of damage. During the study of the appeal, protocols on flood damage were drawn up for each farm and submitted to the working group.
According to the results of the study, legal explanations were given to farms on the need to assess the damage amount through assessment organizations”.
The Council also said that the amount of flood damage to horticultural farms in Mirzaabad, Oqoltin and Sardoba districts and the issue of compensation will be further studied.
The fact that the Council, which has made farmers and dehkan farms compulsory members of its organization, has not even considered informing the relevant government commission on the issue.
We also contacted the Ministry of Agriculture to ask how it could provide practical assistance to farmers affected by the Sardoba flood to recover their losses. Unfortunately, the ministerial press service left our questions unanswered.
For information, on the basis of the presidential decree “On urgent measures to eliminate the consequences of the emergency situation at the Sardoba Reservoir in Syrdarya region” signed on May 1, 2020, a “Government Commission for eliminating the consequences of the flood from the Sardoba Reservoir in the Syrdarya region and investigating the causes of the incident” has been established. The Government Commission headed by Prime Minister Abdulla Aripov has been instructed to take measures to compensate for the damage caused to agricultural production.
Speaking to entrepreneurs recently, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev said that entrepreneurs are reformers, and in order to please the people, entrepreneurs need to be supported.
In addition, during his visit to Syrdarya after the floods in Sardoba, the President repeatedly spoke about the full compensation of farmers. But officials seem to have quickly forgotten the head of state’s instructions.