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Monday 29 May 2000


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Move to construct check-dams may cost dear

RAJKOT: With the monsoon round the corner, the question being posed by the civic and district panchayat officials is whether there would be enough rainfall to fill up the dams which have become playing fields?

Presenting a grim scenario, these officials told TOINS on Saturday that in 80 per cent of the dams in the region, the water level had gone much below the dead water level. Only if it rained bountiful would the water level reach the dead water level, leave aside filling up of the dams, they added.

And this is not due to Mother Nature alone. Officials maintain that, in its quest to divert the public attention from the drought, the BJP government went ahead with the programme of constructing check-dams in the entire region. Not only were these check-dams the fountainhead of rampant corruption, but the after-effect of these check-dams would be felt only during and after the monsoon when the large irrigation dams, which were the only source of water for cities in Saurashtra, would remain dry as all the rain water falling in the catchment areas of the dams would be stopped by these check-dams, the officials said.

Experts said that instead of constructing check-dams in the catchment areas of the dams like Bhadar, Aji, Nyari near Rajkot, Wellington in Junagadh, Fofal near Gondal and Dholidhaja near Surendranagar, these should have been constructed on the downstream so that the overflowing water from the big dams could have been stopped from flowing into the sea.

Last year Aji dam, which supplies water to Rajkot city, was not filled up for the same reason.

There are as many as 70 large and medium dams in the five districts of Saurashtra. Almost 60 of them have gone dry while the remaining 10 have scanty water.

Fears are being expressed that if large dams are not filled up due to construction of the check-dams, the urban-rural divide could take a violent turn as was witnessed in the Falla incident in which three people were killed after the residents of Falla refused to allocate water from the Kankavati dam to the residents of Jamnagar. Another such incident also took place at Kodinar.

There could be many such incidents after the monsoon and the consequences would be far more dangerous than the present drought, as then the people would fight it out themselves.

Irrigation department sources said that the dams in which some water was left, included Machhu-2 (221 MCFT), Aji-3 (97 MCFT), Tanj (42 MCFT), Venu-2 (19.32 MCFT), Karmal (224.1 MCFT), Fofal (86.75 MCFT), Machhu-1 ( 11 MCFT) and Gondli (1.80 MCFT).

The Economic Times


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