Broken promises and drying wells, Chaugama’s struggle for water stays - Hindustan Times
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Broken promises and drying wells, Chaugama’s struggle for water stays

ByS Raju
Apr 25, 2024 06:18 AM IST

With the work for an irrigation network through Chaugama canal pending for the past 50 years, water is the biggest issue for people of more than 50 villages in Baghpat

NIRPURA( BAGHPAT) People of more than 50 villages of Chaugama area have been casting their votes in every election with the hope that the unfinished work of Chaugama canal, pending for the past 50 years, would get completed and water supply would help restore the fast depleting water table in this dark zone. But all their hopes and even efforts, have been dashed.

Mustard crop sown in the dried minor of Chaugama Canal near Pusar village. (HT)
Mustard crop sown in the dried minor of Chaugama Canal near Pusar village. (HT)

Many big movements, protests and marches were carried out in the past three decades to draw the attention of public representatives and state governments to ensure supply of water in the canal but people got only hollow assurances.

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Narendra Rana of Bhadal village has been raising the issue through his organisation Kisan Adhikar Sangthan since 2001. He said, “ The government releases water in a part of the canal whenever people mount pressure through protests and then the situation is back to square one.”

Rana explained that the Chaugama area, also known as doab, lay between Hindon and Krishna rivers and people of more than 50 villages of the area faced the problem of depleting water table since decades.

The idea of providing an irrigation network through a canal was formulated when late Chaudhary Charan Singh was chief minister of Uttar Pradesh. The work on the project was started in 1970 and it was named Doab Chaudhary Charan Singh Nahar Pariyojna, commonly known as Chaugama canal.

The entire project consists of a wide network of three branches and 10 to 12 minors of the main canal for supply of water in this dark zone to lift the water table. The main canal was to feed water through Madhya Ganga Canal. Rana said, “The work of developing the canal network is still incomplete and the water table in the area is depleting fast”.

The government stopped giving tubewell connections after declaring it a dark zone but allowed connections with conditions after people staged protests.

Farmer Vinod Tomar of Pusar village claimed that the water table was at 80 ft 10 years ago but had gone down to 140 to 150 ft now. “ We need to install motors of 15 to 20 horse power to lift water for tubewells,” said Tomar. A local journalist claimed that safe drinking water was now available at 250 ft down the earth.

A minor of Chaugama canal system passes adjacent to Vinod Tomar’s farmland and he said he had not seen water flowing in it for 35 years. These dried minors are filled with bushes and many farmers use them to sow crop.

Farmers Ramkumar, Rajbeer, Narottam and Omkar of Pusar village have sown mustard crop inside the dried minors which is ready for harvesting. In other places, these dried minors are being used for drying dung cakes which villagers use as fuel.

Narendra Rana said that the day was not far off when this area would face acute water crisis like Latur in Maharashtra .

The villagers said they had been raising the issue for decades but got only hollow assurances from public representatives and state governments.

RLD chief Jayant Choudhary did his road show in 16 villages of Chaugama area, seeking votes for his party candidate Rajkumar Sangwan in the election but the issue of Chaugama canal seldom found any mention in his campaign. Same was the case with the campaigns of BSP candidate Praveen Baibsla and SP candidate Amarpal Sharma.

Narendra Rana of Nirpura village,district secretary of BJP’s Kisan Morcha in Baghpat, candidly admitted that this election had no issue but was being fought on an emotional plank. “ Being a party official I often put up the issue of Chaugama canal in meetings and senior party leaders too support it ,” he said Rana, adding that he hoped the demand would be met some day.

Farmers, especially Jats, are annoyed with Jayant Choudhary’s decision of joining hands with the BJP.

“There is no issue and votes will be given on emotional plank,” said the villagers and explained, “ Here the foremost issue is how to ensure victory of RLD and other issues come after that.”

Rana of Kisan Adhikar Sangathan believes that RLD candidate Rajkumar Sangwan will raise the issue of Chaugama canal after being elected.

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