Under the country’s first five year plan post-independence, a 60 kms long canal was built to irrigate the fields in Mau and Ballia districts of Uttar Pradesh. But now, the canal is in a dilapidated condition and farmers are unable to irrigate their crops.
The last time the canal was desilted and cleaned was in 2013. All photos by Tejaswita Upadhyay
Dohrighat (Mau), Uttar Pradesh
Five years after the country’s independence when this serpentine 60-kilometre-long canal was dug, it was a symbol of prosperity and pride. Now, almost six decades later, this canal epitomises official apathy and neglect.
The Dohrighat canal, which was later named after former Prime Minister Chaudhary Charan Singh and runs from Mau to Ballia is in an almost dysfunctional condition with layers of silt deposited at various points and walls crumbling due to weathering with time. The last time the canal was desilted and cleaned was in 2013.
Despite living along the canal’s course, fields of farmers remain parched affecting crop production. Till some years back, the same canal which transports water from Saryu river, used to irrigate hectares and hectares of fields of thousands of farmers in Mau and Ballia districts of the Purvanchal region in Uttar Pradesh.
“When farmers desperately need water for their crops, there is no relief from the canal. In May-June when paddy is planted, there is no water available from the canal. It doesn’t help either in the months when the wheat crop needs water during November-March,” Vijendra Rai, cultivator from Mau who owns five hectares of land, told Gaon Connection.
Farmers allege that due to reasons such as repair, the canal remains out of operation for most of the year.
“The last time this canal was cleaned was in 2013, from then onwards no funds were released for its cleaning and maintenance,” Birendra Paswan, executive engineer in department of irrigation in Mau told Gaon Connection.
Recently, on the completion of four years of the Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath-led state government, the state Minister of Jal Shakti Mahendra Singh announced that all the districts in the state barring Badun have been provided with tap water and irrigation facilities.
“Our government has ensured the cleaning of forty seven thousand kilometers of canals in the state and every canal is in a condition to supply water to its tail (end),” Singh said.
The minister had also informed that the irrigation schemes that were on hold for more than 28 years have been taken care of and land measuring 69,050 hectares has been included in the ambit of irrigation. Also, Rs 13.56 billion have been released for irrigation in the state for the 2020-21 fiscal year.
Inspite of these actions assured by the minister, farmers in the eastern districts of Mau and Ballia are dejected.
“If the water is not supplied at the time when it is most needed, what is the benefit of adding water to the canal,” said Sudhakar Chaurasiya, a farmer from Thakurgaon in Mau.
The farmers in these districts rue that if they depend entirely on this canal for their irrigation needs, they would starve to death.
“Setting up a diesel-operated water pump costs around Rs 8,000-Rs 10,000. The farmers here are barely surviving and added costs of water pumps worsens the situation,” Vijendra Ray, another farmer told Gaon Connection.