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The storage area of the footbridge cum bundhara at Naneli has gone dry from the last week of April

Plantations affected as Sattari bundharas fail to retain water



VALPOI: The Water Resources Department (WRD) has constructed bundharas across four rivers of Sattari – Mhadei, Velus, Ragada and Valvanti under the central government scheme – Pani Adva Pani Jeerva. Though, initially, it showed good result like improvement in the groundwater level and prevented wells from becoming dry, however, during the last two years, the water level has drastically gone down.

Experts claim that there has been rise in temperature this year while in the year 2015 rainfall was comparatively low.

But, the farmers from Sattari informed that the steel plates of the bundharas, that are used to block and store water, have corroded, and so there is heavy water leakage.

“We have demanded with the WRD to replace old corroded plates with new ones. Many groups of farmers have also submitted memorandums but the department does not seem to be serious about the issue. And, due to this, there is a heavy leakage of water from the storage area of the bundharas,” said R Gaonkar, a progressive farmer from Naneli.

Meanwhile, some farmers also told this daily that the WRD has not de-silted the bundhara water storages, resulting in smaller capacity for water storage.

“Some river beds are covered with more than two metre deep silt, preventing effective water storage. The plates after being installed are not replaced and now almost all the plates of the bundharas have corroded, resulting in water leaks” said Rama Sawant from Kopardem.

He further said that almost 50 per cent of water storage capacity of bundharas has been reduced due to the accumulation of silt.

Now, due to the water shortage, many lift irrigation systems have stopped functioning, thereby adversely affecting the plantations.

Kaskar from Melavli, who is very upset over the water shortage, said, “Plantations will not survive without water, especially banana plantations. We are facing a lot of difficulties.”

He further said that the authorities should replace the plates.

“If this problem is not fixed now, it could create adverse effect on agriculture in the longer run” said Rane from Sonal.

When contacted, WRD officials admitted about the shortage of water in rivers.

But, according to them, besides water leakage there are others factors which have led to water shortage.

“This year, there has been a sudden rise in temperature, and so drastic water evaporation has taken place. We are monitoring the situation, and it is noticed that unlike every year, the water level went down a week before this year,” said assistant engineer, P G Babu.

Babu said that estimate for replacing the old plates has already been done and will be sent to higher authorities.

“I am sure that next year, we are going to replace all the broken plates of bundharas and there will be no such challenging situation for the farmers,” he said.

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