Times of India: Rajkot: Thursday, December 13, 2017.
Crores of gallons of precious Narmada water has inundated close to 400 salt pans in Kharaghoda of Surendranagar district for the last 20 days.
The water from Kharaghoda branch canal, Goraiya branch canal and Maliya branch canal, has spread in an area of 50km, leaving close to 150 agariaya (salt pan workers) families without work.
Dhirubhai Mangabhai, a salt pan owner, said, "We have been facing this problem for the last 20 days. But authorities have no time to listen to us. We have represented to the Surendranagar collector too in this regard."
One salt pan suffers a loss of anything between Rs 70,000 to Rs 1 lakh depending on the size. The workers have sent back their family members to native villages and only males are staying put at the site.
Ambu Patel, a Kharaghoda resident, said, "Such colossal wastage of water has become a regular phenomenon every winter season when Narmada water is released for rabi crop. We have been facing this problem for the last five years. The area affected due to inundation has only increased over the years."
Bharat Samera, president of Agariya Hitrakshak Manch, said, "Nearly 400 salt pans of eight societies have been washed out. We want a permanent solution to this problem."
R K Jha, chief engineer of Saurashtra branch canal, Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd said, "Due to cyclonic situation, demand for irrigation has decreased. As a result, the farmers stopped intake of water. However, they did not inform us. As a result, the water was continuously released and spread in the area."
Jha also admitted that proper attention was not given to the problem earlier as many staff members were on election duty. "I have deputed a team to look into the issue but we also need farmers' participation to bring about a proper solution."
Surendranagar collector Udit Agrawal said, "I have received the representation from salt pan workers and sent some officers to investigate. The probe report will be sent to the state government."