Aurangabad: The basics norms related to reservoir operation schedule of dams located in upstream areas of Jayakwadi major irrigation project have been allegedly violated this year as well, making different parts of Marathwada prone to both water scarcity and floods.
“Majority of 22 dams located in Ahmednagar and Nashik districts had started releasing water only after live storage was almost exceeded that is considered as violation of laid down norms,” alleged farmer leader Jayaji Suryawanshi.
“The 2006 floods in parts of Marathwada and deluge in Gangapur and Vaijpuar talukas of Aurangabad district last year due to sudden release of water — up to the speed of 1.5 lakh cusec — are glaring examples of scant regard shown to the basics of reservoir operation schedule in upstream areas. The concerned government officials, who work under political pressure, are to be blamed for loss of lives and agriculture,” he said.
The reservoir operation schedule decides fortnightly operation of dam gates and amount of release of water in keeping with the occurrence of rainfall. The surplus water received in dam as against designated storage is released into downstream areas.
Chief engineer of every dam charts out the concerned schedule that aims to ensure 100% live storage by end of October 15 that marks end of monsoon.
Water activist Abhijit Joshi said it is highly objectionable on the part of state water resources department (WRD) to release water only when upstream dams are completely filled.
“The drought-prone Marathwada is taken for granted every year in the matter of water release from upstream dams. The WRD authorities themselves cause injustice to the region by not following the principles of equitable water distribution,” he said.
As per sample official data, Jayakwadi project had witnessed inflows from upstream dams around July 24 only when six of such irrigation projects were filled more than 100%.
It should be noted that population of more than 2.86 lakh from six talukas of Aurangabad district had become dependent on water-tankers by mid of August before the latest revival of monsoon.
When contacted, senior WRD official, preferring anonymity, said charges levelled by activists of violation of reservoir operation schedule needs to be studied. “The concerned officials often refute such charges saying that surplus water is released into canal systems along with downstream dams. An official study is needed by taking sample data of past few years to evaluate functioning of reservoir operation schedule of each dam,” he said.
Darna, Gangapur, Nilwande, Mula, Bhandardara, Mukne, Ozarkhed, Karanjwane, Bhauli, Kadwa and Palkhed are some of the key irrigation projects that have been located in upstream areas of Jayakwadi dam.
Water management expert Pradeep Purandare stressed the need for modifying the government policies in the matter of reservoir operation schedule. “The concerned schedule must be charted out as per basin to basin of rivers instead of current practice of project-wise schedule. Such reform, if implemented in letter and spirit, would ensure equitable distribution of water,” he said.