On the fourth day, farmers of Mahisagar district called off their hunger strike on Friday after the Collector agreed to work on their demand for water in canal which has remained dry for the last 35 years. “I would rather die fighting for water in our dry canal than suffer a slow death due to erratic monsoon and limited agriculture opportunity that comes for want of proper irrigation facility in a dozen villages like ours here,” said Manubhai Patel, a 50-year-old farmer from Dhesia village, situated some 20 kms from Lunawada in newly-formed Mahisagar district.
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Patel and his friend Jaipalsinh Gohil decided to go on fast unto death demanding water in 18-km distributary canal of Bhadar dam project in Lunawada that has run dry for 35 years now, ever since it was constructed with the aim to facilitate irrigation. The collector accepted their demand to find the feasibility of linking the Sujalam Sufalam Canal to a lake situated at a distance of eight kms from where water could be channelled into the dry canal network. “This is the only way out by which we can get water to irrigate our fields. This will help irrigate around 5,000 hectare land spread across a dozen villages which have depended on erratic monsoon despite their being a canal network for more than three decades,” said Gohil.
“This is the second time that Collector K D Upadhyay has assured us that our demand will be met, but this time it has been announced in the public and therefore, we are hopeful that something positive will come out,” he said. Villagers said the canal network was laid in 1980. But ever since, the canal received not a drop of water. It is nearly choked by debris and overgrown plants which are occasionally cleared by contractors engaged by the irrigation department.