Deficient rains cause of worry for Gujarat

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Gandhinagar : Even as the monsoons are half way through the season, the Gujarat government on Tuesday expressed its worries about the deficient rains which have left the state water-starved and feared that if the situation persisted, it will be difficult, especially for agriculture.

Gujarat Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel told reporters here that "though there was good rainfall in the first round of the monsoon season, many areas are still deficient. There was scanty rainy season for Ahmedabad, Surendranagar, Morbi and Kutch, among others. Such kind of situation has arisen after many years".

According to the Minister, the lifeline of Gujarat, Narmada river, has also received less rains this year.

"The catchment area for Sardar Sarovar dam is in Madhya Pradesh. There the main dams like Bargi, Tava and Indirasagar are also filled with only 81 per cent, 35 per cent and 31 per cent capacity, respectively. The water storage capacity of Sardar Sarovar is 5,760 MCM, while the current level is only 102 MCM, meaning only 2 per cent. Right now there is no live volume of water which we can be released from the dam," he said.

He also said that out of the more than 250 talukas (Blocks), 44 have received less than 125 mm rainfall, 43 talukas have received up to 250 mm, 33 talukas have got 500 to 1,000 mm and only 26 talukas have received more than 1,000 mm rainfall.

"Although the situation is grim, the state won't face any problems regarding drinking water. But if the situation persists for 4 to 5 days without rains, it will be difficult for farming in the state. We pray to God that it rains adequate in the remaining one and half month of the season," the Deputy Chief Minister said.

To combat this grim situation, the government on Tuesday formed a high level committee headed by Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and comprising Agriculture, Water Resources, Revenue and Energy Cabinet Ministers, the Chief secretary and the Principal Secretaries of various departments concerned.

The committee decided to increase the power supply by two hours for the farmers in the state from the present eight hours. Further, it will continue providing grass or fodder at subsidized rate of Rs 2 per kg in the worst-affected 44 talukas till the situation improves.

Moreover, as Kutch region has received scanty rains, the government decided to fill the Tupper dam with 500 million cubic feet of Narmada waters immediately.