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Machhu-2 dam may go dry by May

By Sudhir Vyas

RAJKOT: With the arrival of summer, the people of Saurashtra have hard days ahead of them.

This is because almost 85 per cent of the dams in the region have not a drop of water. Another five per cent is expected to go dry as summer progresses.

As the summer tightens its grip on the region, the trek to collect a pot of water will lengthen. Women may have to walk more than two to 5 km to fetch a bucket of water. Battle lines have been drawn for water riots. The first salvo was fired in Falla followed by Kodinar.

The situation was critical, and with Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel announcing that the Narmada waters may never reach Saurashtra, the situation worsened. People and local authorities are at a loss how to tackle the situation in case rains arrive late. The situation was critical especially in Rajkot, Jamnagar, Surendranagar, Amreli and Kutch.

The authorities fear that the level of groundwater would go down further with the progress of summer.

The latest water position in dams shows that Bhadar may go totally dry by the beginning of the next month followed closely by Machhu-2 dam, which supplies water to Morbi, Maliya and Jodiya.

Residents of Maliya have already called for a village bandh if water was not supplied in time.

According to highly places sources in the irrigation department, the situation has gone beyond the control of seniors. Alarm bells have started ringing in the region and the officials in Gandhinagar have been warned of the grave situation. To make matters worse, the officials allege that "the people sitting in Gandhinagar have not taken the issue seriously."

The Wankaner-Halwad bore supplying water to Rajkot is 'unreliable' and has been plagued with problems. As a result of this the residents of Rajkot have to wait endlessly for water. Rallies and dharnas to the municipal corporation office have become commonplace.

The figures made available to this correspondent for the Machhu-2 dam were alarming. The dam has a capacity of 3,551 million cubic feet (MCFT). On June 23 last year, when the dam received the last spell of rain, it had 838 MCFT of water. As a result of this, no water was released for irrigation and the entire stock was kept reserved for drinking water.

From one end of the dam, 11 million litres per day (MLD) of water was released for Morbi town. From the other end, the water supply board was lifting water for 142 villages in Maliya and Jodiya taluka through 20 high power motors. They were lifting 11 MLD of water as well.

A dam official, VD Makasana, said the board used to lift 15 MLD of water. At present, the dam has 411 MCFT left. Of this, 66 MCFT was dam water and the remaining 345 MCFT was dead water, some of which could be used for drinking, say the officials.

Going by these figures, the Machhu-2 dam may go dry by May. Incidentally, it was the same dam that had burst its embankment in 1978, killing thousands of people. The dam had burst as it was filled to capacity. In such a situation alternative steps have been taken to drill 30 bores at Makansar near Wankaner.

One contingency plan was to redirect water to the Machhu-2 dam through a pipeline. Work was in progress on this, but the problem was that if these 30 bores were drilled near Makansar, there was the possibility of water level at these bores going down further, creating additional problems for Rajkot city.

The Machhu-2 dam, which supplies water to Morbi, Maliya and Jodiya is expected to go completely dry by May.

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