Denied use of water from the Und dam for irrigation, farmers of 10 villages in Rajkot district have approached the Gujarat High Court against a government engineer who they alleged was not allowing them to draw water despite their having paid the charges.
The court Thursday directed proceedings against the irrigation department engineer for malafide action against the farmers and ordered a probe into the wastage of water.
Dayalji Bhimani and others in their petition stated that the deputy executive engineer of the Rajkot irrigation circle, who was also the Canal Officer, had failed to discharge his duties in accordance with the law as per the provisions of the Bombay Irrigation Act, 1879. They alleged that the engineer was supporting the illegal acts of those who obstructed the flow of water and was thus indirectly encouraging corrupt practices.
The petitioners said though they had paid the stipulated water charges, they were still being denied water by the DEE. This had severely affected agriculture over an area of 750 acres of farmland.
They told the court that farmers of more than ten villages of the area had been using the waters of the Und river from the times of their forefathers for their livelihood through agriculture. Following the construction of two dams on the river, they were denied use of the water.
Reprieve for the villagers came when a magisterial court directed the state government to release water from the dam for irrigation purposes after taking necessary water charges.
In December 2009, the petitioners had collectively paid Rs.1.42 lakh as water charges but the DEE of Rajkot irrigation circle denied releasing the water on the ground that plantations in the river bed were obstructing its flow.
After hearing the case, Justice K.A. Puj ordered an enquiry against the engineer and directed that penal action be taken if he is found guilty.
The court also ordered immediate removal of plantations in the river bed and a probe into the wastage of water that has been brought to the notice of the court by the petitioners.