wakes up and smells the rain
droughts, showers put smiles back on farmers’ faces, reservoirs
swell with water
June 20: GOOD news and Gujarat? The two had parted ways over
the last three years after three droughts, an unforgettable earthquake
and the Madhavpura Bank scam. The reunion has finally taken place
and rain showers have played Cupid: after months, checkdams are
full, relief sites are being shut down, dry reservoirs are filling
up and sowing has begun in the fields.
the stricken state a week ahead of its regular course, the rain
hasn’t just relieved farmers who can now look forward to the prospect
of a kharif crop. It’s also given Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel,
who’s still shouldering flak for the handling of post-quake relief
plus battling dissent within the BJP, a breather.
more than 13,500 checkdams built in the Saurashtra-Kutch region
under the Sardar Patel Participatory Water Conservation scheme have
been brimming with water after four days of rain. The checkdams
now have 1,520 million cubic feet of water in store, which will
help in recharging ground water as well as irrigating over 52,000
hectares in drought-hit regions.
downpour also swelled up 175 small and medium dams in the Kutch
district as well as reservoirs in the Saurashtra and southern Gujarat.
At least 2,600 more checkdams are being built in Saurashtra, to
be completed by July end.
comes after a long dry and depressing spell. Last year, less than
two months after the end of the monsoon, all major dams in the scarcity-drone
Saurashtra, Kutch and north Gujarat started to dry up. In September,
the regions had just 20 per cent live storage and by the end of
the year, there was simply no water left.
This year, even
Ahmedabad and most of central Gujarat, including the city of Vadodara,
bore the brunt of the drought. More than 12,000 of the total 18,000
villages and 22 of 25 districts in Gujarat were declared scarcity
and semi-scarcity-hit. Ironically, last year’s drought which affected
over 9,000 villages affected, was dubbed the century’s worst!
Apart from transferring
the Narmada waters through pipelines from the Irrigation Bypass
Tunnel of the Sardar Sarovar Project, the government had to tap
overexploited groundwater all over again, operate tankers and run
water trains. Drought relief sites were opened in as many as 199
talukas, engaging over 20,000 workers. The good spell of rain has
lifted the shroud of scarcity from over 130 talukas, and relief
works there have been closed.
with the Supreme Court lifting a six-year-old stay on further construction
on the Narmada project, the Gujarat Government also opened the floodgates
of water from the Narmada dam.