Farmers staging ‘mahapadav’ in Jalore for water from Jawai dam

Hundreds of farmers from 186 villages in Rajasthan’s Jalore district have started a ‘mahapadav’ (stay) at the district headquarters, with the demand for a share in the water from the Jawai dam in neighbouring Pali. The release of water for Jalore from the dam, built on Luni river’s tributary Jawai, has been a matter of dispute since its construction in 1957.

The protesting villagers reside on the banks of Jawai river, which originates in Udaipur, crosses Pali, Sirohi and Jalore districts, and runs till Runkhar near Sanchore. For the last several years, farmers have been demanding that one-third of the water stored in the dam be released into the Jawai river as a natural flow, which will increase the ground water level in the region and help in the irrigation of crops.

The State government had sanctioned ₹2,554 crore for the dam’s recharge in December 2022, but neither has the work started nor have the farmers’ demand for fixing Jalore district’s share in the dam waters been met. The villages, from where the farmers have joined the protest, have agricultural land measuring 2.70 lakh hectares, but only 5% of the land gets water for irrigation.

Unfit wells and tubewells

The villages are situated in Paota, Ahore, Jalore, Sayala and Bagoda tehsils, through which the river passes. Most of the 16,300 wells and 160 tubewells in these villages have become unfit for drawing water because of the natural flow of Jawai river being stopped by the dam, situated near Sumerpur in Pali district.

The farmers, preparing for the ‘mahapadav’ for the last one month, were miffed at a reply given to a question asked by a BJP MLA from Ahore, Chhagan Singh, about the dam, during the ongoing Budget Session of the State Assembly. The State government said in reply that there was no provision for releasing water to Jalore from the dam.

Bharatiya Kisan Sangh’s Jalore district general secretary Khim Singh said the ‘mahapadav’ would continue until the State government evolved a final solution to the issue of non-availability of water in the downstream of Jawai dam. The agitating farmers presented a memorandum to the Tehsildar Paras Mal at the Collectorate’s entrance gate on Wednesday.

The protesters included a large number of women from the families of agriculturists. The farmers have brought 150 wheat sacks collected from the villages, cooking oil and groceries with them for staying at the ‘mahapadav’ venue for as long as it is needed. They sang the Holi festival songs on the beats of ‘chang’ musical instrument during the night.

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