Jun 17, 2012
Rajkot With cities in Saurashtra, including Rajkot, facing acute shortage of drinking water, the Surendranagar district administration on Tuesday declared the Maliya Canal branch carrying Narmada water and passing through the district a prohibited zone, a move sure to anger farmers who often draw canal water illegally for irrigation.Though the 137-km-long canal cuts through Surendranagar district, farmers are not allowed to draw water for irrigation. “Because of farmers and others drawing water illegally from Maliya Canal passing through Surendranagar district, drinking water supply to Saurashtra-Kutch has been hit. That is why the canal area has been declared a prohibited zone,” said a notification signed by additional collector M B Patel.According to the notification, anyone flouting the orders will be liable to be punished with a month’s imprisonment or fine under the Bombay Police Act 133 and IPC Section 188.The new order will affect a total of 32 villages — 3 in Lakhtar taluka, 5 in Dasada taluka, 11 in Dharngadhra taluka and 13 in Hadvad taluka — all located along the open canal in Surendranagar district.
Saurashtra thirsty, canal declared off-limits after water theft
In the past, incidents of water thefts have led to clashes in which state officials have been roughed up by farmers. To check such incidents, SRP companies have been deployed.
According to officials, the state government had been so far going easy on farmers with Assembly polls in mind but acute shortage of drinking water in cities like Rajkot and Jamnagar has forced its hands.
Sources said less than half of the allotted quantum of water was reaching various urban and rural areas of Saurashtra-Kutch because of rampant theft of canal water.
“Against an allotted 500 MLD (million liters per day) of water supplied through Maliya canal, less than 200 MLD has been reaching its destination these days,” said an official.
Rajkot, over the past fortnight, has been receiving only 170 MLA of water against the allotted 280, forcing civic authorities to impose a water supply cut since Tuesday. The situation is worse in Kutch, the farthest district, where water supply these days is less than 40 per cent of its allotted 170 MLD.
The notification says that due of pilferage, the quantum of water reaching Kherayee pumping station near Surendranagar district is so less that it has hit supply to various parts of Saurashtra-Kutch.
Meanwhile, claiming that over 80 per cent of Narmada water is meant for farmers, MahaGujarat Janta Party has announced an agitation in Halvad on July 4. MJP president Gordhan Zadaphia said farmer could not be banned from the canal area.