Farmers from three talukas of Ahmedabad district on Monday alleged that 'massive corruption' in the construction of the Narmada Irrigation System, built by the government, has lead to faulty construction of minor and sub-minor canals.
"Over 5,000 farmers of Bavla, Dholka and Sanand talukas of Ahmedabad district have been affected due to massive corruption in construction of canals," Musabhai Khatumbra of Rupgadh village at Dholka taluka told mediapersons in Ahmedabad.
He said the sub-canals, which were supposed to bring Narmada water from the main canal to their fields, were never built properly.
"The sub-canals are broken at a number of places due to use of substandard material and cement. In some places, the irrigation department engineers have placed plastic sheets inside the canal after the inner lining was washed off in the rains," Musabhai alleged.
Abdul Ibrahim, also from Roopgadh, said villagers had made many representations before officials of the irrigation department, but nothing has happened.
Over 1,000 farmers from the three talukas have filed a complaint with the chairman, Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd and the district collector in this regard through the NGO Jan Sangharsh Manch.
"Based on complaints of farmers we ourselves investigated the matter and found that most of the canal system was defunct and has never been used," JSM convener Amrish Patel said.
"We have made two representations on behalf of the farmers of the three talukas to the concerned department, but there has been no response," he said.
Patel said they have submitted photographs of the broken, clogged, defunct sub canals, and minor canals to the government officials and are awaiting their response.
"If we do not get response then we would file a public interest litigation in the Gujarat high court. Also, we plan to have a rally on 'May Day' followed by dharnas and agitations at the district and taluka level," he added.
"This large scale irregularity and corruption in construction of canals seems to be a tactic to force the poor farmers to sell of their land for less price," he added.
Musabhai said that due to non-functional canals their farming has become dependent mostly on rain water, and this is adversely affecting crops and farmers, who are suffering irreparable losses.