Turning a problem into an opportunity in Saurashtra

Rajkot, 1 January 2013

Data available from hydrological surveys suggest that most of the reservoirs across the country have accumulated silt that has reduced the storage capacity of dams.

Some of the dams in Gujarat also face this problem. It results into the loss in storage capacity. Loss of forest cover in catchment area, erosion due to mining, industrialization and urbanization contribute to increasing siltation rate over the years.

It is observed that in any reservoir there is very high sedimentation at the river confluence and moderate sedimentation at the periphery of the reservoir. The way out is to remove the silt from the interior of the reservoir and dump it scientifically and in methodical stages at the boundaries. Construction of barrages across rivers, making water user charges mandatory and a legislation to manage catchment area are other suitable actions.

According to sources in government of Gujarat, the irrigation department is planning a massive silt excavation drive covering as many as 80 dams of Saurashtra region, starting from Makarasankranti (14 January) this year at a cost of Rs 50 crore. The silt removed can be used by farmers as it is rich in soil nutrients and fertile for agriculture.

As per one estimate, the drive will facilitate 20 MCFT addition in water storage capacity of these dams. To get a feel of the quantum of water that goes into one tmc ft (tmc ft is an abbreviation for one thousand million cubic feet, a unit of measure used to report volumes of water), imagine a huge outlet that is pouring out 33,000 liters of water per second. Keep this outlet open for 24 hours and the total water collected will amount to one tmc ft. That’s indeed a lot of water.

Due to lesser than expected rain last monsoon in Gujarat, many dams including Bhadar and Aaji are speedily drying up, and by the end of this month, most of the dams may look like dry pieces of open land.

The state government has taken a decision to turn the problem into an opportunity.

The government intends to utilize pre-monsoon period by taking up a massive excavation drive at dams in an attempt to make them ready to store more water.

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi had hinted to carry out such drive before the announcement of Gujarat elections last year. He rightly observed that due to continuous good monsoons in last decade in Gujarat, the government couldn’t carry out capacity enhancement works at dams.

Some of the dams likely to be covered under this ambitious desilting drive in Saurashtra region are; Aaji, Bhadar, Veri tank, Lalpari, Sasoi, Und, Nyari two, Ozat, Umben, Shetrunji, Khodiar and Kalubhar.