5 lakh Gujaratis to participate in ‘Save Water’ campaign on May 5

Virendra Pandit Gandhinagar | Updated on March 12, 2018

Farmers in Vadodara harvested a bumper potato crop last month. The check-dam miracle has seen Gujarat achieve over 11 per cent growth in agriculture in the last few years.   -  PTI

At a time when neighbouring Maharashtra is facing the worst drought in 40 years, Gujarat is gearing up to conserve water on a war-footing: About five lakh people will gather in Rajkot district on May 5 to participate in a massive “yagna” at the end of a month-long save-water campaign across 4,800 villages of the Saurashtra region.

Being organised by the Surat-based Saurashtra Jaldhara Trust, the campaign, called the Saurashtra Narmada Jal Avataran Janjagriti Mahayagna, will be held at Bhadar dam in village Deola of Gondal taluka in Rajkot district. A 10,000-member committee has been constituted for the purpose. Ministers, MPs, MLAs and politicians will also participate.

The objectives of the massive campaign include closing down unproductive bore-wells.

Prior to the May 5 event, about 55,000 volunteers of the campaign will fan out for a month from April 1 and hold over 2,500 public meetings across the villages to create public awareness on how to save precious water, Mathurbhai Sawani, Chairman of the Trust, told Business Line on Tuesday.

Thousands of Surat-based natives of the Saurashtra region, who are sending representatives to the campaign, have collected nearly Rs 200 crore to provide free-of-charge JCB machines, cement and other material to the 2,000 village-level Jalsanchay Samitis for sinking new tube-wells and bore-wells for common use.

The Saurashtra region, which faced a series of severe droughts in the 1970-2000 period, had transformed this crisis into an opportunity as over two lakh check-dams were constructed in the last two decades to prevent wastage of precious rainwater. Despite erratic and late rains last monsoon, the region is not as parched as it once used to be. In 1998-99, drinking water was being transported in trains from Gandhinagar to Jamnagar, a distance of more than 400 km. It was the check-dam miracle that Gujarat was able to achieve over 11 per cent growth in agriculture in the last few years.

Now, the Trust has chalked out a five-point programme for better water use and conservation: water collection, popularising use of drip-and-sprinkler irrigation across fields, dismantling unusable and very deep bore-wells and tube-wells as they drain out water from the depths of the earth, optimum use of Narmada waters in Saurashtra and working for the success of the proposed Kalpsar Project for creating a sweet-water reservoir in the Gulf of Cambay.

As summer approaches, the Gujarat Government is also planning to fill up 115 dams and rivers with Narmada waters.

Published on March 19, 2013

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