Thousands of farmers marched on the streets of Surat on Tuesday against the ongoing water scarcity in the district and demanded the state government to supply water for irrigation for 80 days during the summer season instead of the 42 days as notified by the Irrigation Department. The farmers, under the banner of Khedut Samaj, also asked the government to rescind its circular asking farmers to not sow paddy next summer.
The farmers, mostly from Olpad, Kamrej, Palsana, Bardoli and Chorryasi talukas, assembled at Jehangirpura and marched to Irrigation Department office in Athwalines area where they submitted a memorandum of their demands to Superintendent Engineer S R Mahakal.
The memorandum addressed to Chief Minister Vijay Rupani demanded irrigation water for 80 days — 20 days in January and February, 20 days in March and April, 20 days in April and May, and 20 days of May and June.
Following a deficient monsoon this year and less rainfall in the catchment areas, the water level in Ukai dam stood at 318.56 feet. Following which, the Irrigation Department decided that water from the dam will be released for 22 days in March and 20 days in April.
The water from the dam supplies water for irrigation to farmers in Surat, Navsari, Bharuch, and Valsad districts. Last year, the water level in Ukai dam was 323 feet after monsoon, and the government had decided to supply irrigation water for 116 days on a rotation basis.
“The superintendent engineer has agreed to our demand to withdraw the circular regarding not to grow paddy this summer,” Khedut Samaj Jayesh Patel told The Indian Express.
“Regarding our demand that water should be given for irrigation for 80 days between January and June, the superintendent engineer told us that they will call a meeting in next couple of days and will discuss the issue with chief engineer and secretary of Irrigation Department,” he added.
According to Patel, the current water level in Ukai dam is sufficient to supply water for 80 days. “At present, the water level in Ukai dam is 308 feet or 2,700 MCM (million cubic metre). Daily, 20 MCM water is used for irrigation. So, for 80 days, it would be 1,600 MCM. While for drinking purpose 1.5 MCM water is supplied daily from Ukai dam. So, for 180 days it would be 270 MCM. If we add both the figures, it is 1,870 MCM. Even after supplying the water, 300 MCM water is still left unused in the dam,” he said.