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The Indian Express : National Network


Friday, August 3, 2001

Dangs has dams aplenty, no water


SURAT, AUGUST 2: Extensive planning and a network of 450 check dams later, Dangs district in Gujarat stands where it was — the farmers still reap just one crop annually which is entirely rain-fed. Ironically, even with rainfall exceeding 100 inches a year in the region, the inhabitants of Dangs face a shortage of drinking water soon after Diwali.

One of the contentious check dams. Express photo

The vast network of check-dams was intended to harvest rain water for purposes of drinking, irrigation and development of animal husbandry. But the plan, which looked pretty on paper, flopped when it came to execution. The location of most of the 450 check dams defeat their purpose. Like the one located at the mouth of a water-fall at Waghai Hanuman Khadia which does not serve either the purpose of irrigation or storage of water.

The place where the dam has been constructed, forms a natural pool and water is stored there for most part of the year because of the water fall along river Ambika. Had this check-dam been constructed further downstream, it would have been able to hold more water for the use of locals.

Says Subhash Bhaglu of Hanuman Khadia,‘‘This dam is of no use, even without it water used to collect here. Moreover, there are no irrigation channels from this point to our fields therefore it is pointless to have it here.’’

Villages such as Ambapara, Rambar, Sakad Pathar, which lie within half a km from the check-dam, still have go to without water. Farmers here continue to harvest a single crop a year. Some of these dams also have heavy leakages which destroy the very idea behind setting them up. There are of course, some exceptions to these faultily-placed check dams. But these are few and far between.

Says Fatma Satar Ali of Ambapara village,‘‘Though this region receives heavy rainfall we have not benefited from it and soon after Diwali we face a shortage of drinking water, leave alone irrigating the fields.’’

Dangs collector Mukesh Kumar admits that the location of some of these check dams is faulty. He clarifies,‘‘A team of researchers from the Indian Institute of Mass Communication visited Dangs and we asked them to include location of check dams as one of the points to be covered in the survey. For future constructions we are using their study and a master plan drawn by the state Irrigation Department to locate these dams at suitable places.’’

About leaking dams he says,‘‘Because of constant contraction and expansion of soil these cracks and leakages occur. It is only after three to four years of construction of a dam that cent per cent storage is possible.’’

He clarifies ‘‘Not all check dams belong to the collectorate, there are numerous agencies like the Director District Development Agency, the Forest Department, the Gujarat Water Supply and Sewerage Board which have constructed these check dams.’’ May be therein lies the crux of the problem.

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© 2001: Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd. All rights reserved throughout the world.