Gujarat: Farmers demand police patrol along water canalhttps://indianexpress.com/article/india/farmers-demand-police-patrol-along-water-canal-5718127/

Gujarat: Farmers demand police patrol along water canal

The sarpanches and farmers of the six villages — Tunda, Dabhadi, Chhini, Dhanser, Bhandut and Pinjrat that fall in the tailend of the canal network — made representations about the alleged water theft from the canal that brings water from Ukai dam.

Bone Dry: The water canals around Thol lake near Ahmedabad has completely dried up this summer. Javed Raja

Farmers of six villages in Olpad taluka of Surat district have petitioned to district Irrigation Department office, saying they are not receiving water from Kakrapar right bank canal since April 28 and have demanded patrolling by police along the canal alleging water theft.

The sarpanches and farmers of the six villages — Tunda, Dabhadi, Chhini, Dhanser, Bhandut and Pinjrat that fall in the tailend of the canal network — made representations about the alleged water theft from the canal that brings water from Ukai dam.

“Earlier too, such incidents of water theft from the canal had taken place and the police took strict actions against those involved. Farmers in other villages are involved in stealing water from the canal. If we go and take out their pipes, they quarrel with us. We have demanded that police should patrol the canal network and the irrigation department officials should also carry out frequent checkings,” Dharmesh Patel, sarpanch of Bhandut village, said.

According to Pramod Patel, a resident of Tundi village, the people in the village have no other source of income besides farming. “Vegetables and rice are grown. The condition of farmers are pitiable as without water the crops will be damaged. We are hopeful that Irrigation Department officials will take amicable steps,” Pramod said.

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An official of the Irrigation Department in Surat said that they have received the complaints of the farmers. “Let’s see what can be done… We will sort out the issue in coming days,” the official said.

EC waives model code for water relief in state

Owing to the ongoing water scarcity in Gujarat, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has waived conditions of Model Code of Conduct (MCC) for ministers and collectors in the state to carry out public works related to water relief till May 15.

Due to the ongoing Lok Sabha elections, the MCC is in force till May 27. Results of the Lok Sabha elections will be declared on May 23.

However, due to worrisome water scenario in the state, Gujarat government had sought the waiver from the ECI so that the ministers and its officials, mainly district collectors, can carry out relief works.

“We had sought the waiver from the EC, specially for the collectors since they are the key officials in districts,” a senior state government official said.

A senior EC official said the request from the Gujarat government has been accepted. “A waiver has been granted till May 15. During this period, the state ministers and collectors can carry out relief work only related to water in the state. We have asked the state government to ensure that the collectors must not be involved in the work after May 15 so that, the work related to the Lok Sabha results is not hampered.”

Gujarat is facing a serious water scarcity this summer with most dams especially in Saurashtra and north Gujarat regions having less water.