Daily News Analysis, Gujarat: There is a saying ‘chirag tale andhera’ meaning darkness below lamp.

It seems to be true for farmers living near Narmada river and Sardar Sarovar dam. While the BJP government may claim that Narmada water has reached Saurashtra and Kutch districts because of its Sujalam Sufalam scheme, the sad reality is that villages under Bharuch and Narmada districts which are so close to Narmada river and Sardar Sarovar dam are not getting water for farming. Due to this, they are able to harvest only one crop a year.

“The riverbed which was 1,600 metre long has shrunk to 400 metre after the erection of Sardar Sarovar dam. Due to high water storage capacity, water in river has dried up. There are many villages which are running out of water after a few months of monsoon,” said Dhaval Kanojiya, RTI activist based in Bharuch.

A farmer Vinesh Rathva of Pavi Jetpur of Chhota Udepur district sharing his plight said, three crops can be cultivated only at places where river Aursang’s water reaches. “Forget about water for farming, people hardly get drinking water during summer. Once in a year, we are able to sow crop, thanks to monsoon. Rest of the year, we can’t do anything! Water has reached Saurashtra from here, but sadly we are not getting even a drop of it,” he said.

Meanwhile, a major migration is taking place from here to Saurashtra for farming. “Due to non-availability of water here, large number of people are hired as farming labourers. There is a concept of farming in partnership. Fifth share of earning in farming is given to labourers who are migrating to Saurashtra,” said Arjun Rathva, AAP candidate from Chhota Udepur constituency.

“After migration they are facing lot of social and economic issues. There is no written contract between the labourers and employers which ends up in exploitation of them in many forms. Here inspite having a chunk of land they can’t do farming due to unavailability of water,” added Rathva.

Another farmer, Mathura Rathava said, “Government is claiming that in Gujarat farmers are taking three season crop, which is a biggest lie. Come to Chhota Udepur and see the ground reality in villages. The entire region go dry a few months after monsoon gets over.”

He added, “Earlier, we were able to grow one crop. Now too only one crop owing to monsoon. Nothing has changed in our life after Sardar Sarovar Dam.”

Harvest affected

“In some areas, the salinity has increased and due to this, farming is not possible. Farmers who were used to take two to three crops a year earlier are now able to sow seeds only once a year,” said Dhaval Kanojiya, RTI activist based in Bharuch.

Web: http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-gujarat-elections-2017-farmers-in-narmada-bharuch-await-water-2564389