Dozens of homes and the primary health centre (PHC) in Sardhar, a village 29 km east of Rajkot, have remained flooded for the past two weeks as water is overflowing from the historic Siddharaj Jaysinh Lake and gushing through the main square of the village following very heavy rain in its catchment area in the last week of August.
Residents of Sardhar say that Siddharj Jaysinh, the 11th century ruler of Gujarat, had the lake dug in a ridge around a 1,000 years ago. It doesn’t have any spillway structure to discharge floodwaters. The lake, now under the control of the irrigation circle (panchayat) of Rajkot, is officially called Sardhar Minor Irrigation Scheme. The irrigation department used to supply irrigation water to farmers of Sardhar village from this lake till around 20 years ago but since it has a very limited catchment area, it hardly gets its fill. It is a source of drinking water for around 12,000 residents of Sardhar.
Residents say inflow of water was unprecedented on August 24-25. “No one in the village today has memory of this lake having got so much water ever. We are told that in recent history, it had got its quota only once in 1979, the year of Machhu dam disaster. But this year, that record was broken as water started overflowing from a depression in the ridge two weeks ago and it continues till the date,” Nilesh Virani, member of Rajkot district panchayat from Sardhar constituency, said on Tuesday. Sardhar was part of the erstwhile princely state of Rajkot. It was also the capital of that princely state for sometime before the city of Rajkot was developed. “The lake was certainly there before the state of Rajkot was formed,” says Mandhatasinh Jadeja, the patriarch of the royal family of Rajkot.
The water has not only flooded houses but also compound of the PCH in Sardhar and a small section of Rajkot-Bhavnagar state highway. “While the flooding is not very severe in residential areas of the village, very high water level in the lake has submerged around 3000 bigha land, damaging standing crops,” Pintu Dhankecha, sarpanch of Sardhar village says.
The village is located downstream the lake. But irrigation officers say there is no fear of any breach as the ridge, which is acting as the bund of the lake is robust. “There is an irrigation canal originating from the dam but farmers have damaged it as it had fallen out of use many years ago. As an emergency measure, we are digging a diversion canal to drain water from the Sardhar dam into Karmal river which flows by the neighbouring Bhangda village. Work on this two-km channel will be completed in next few days,” Vinod Nakum, executive engineer of irrigation department said.
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