Army men guard water body in Madhya Pradesh district to check overdrawing
The army men are patrolling a 12-km stretch near the Chitora stop dam, preventing them from drawing water, allege the villagers.Updated: Dec 11, 2019 05:30 IST
The army cantonment in Sagar, 186 km from Bhopal, and residents of around 12 villages in the same district have been locked in a dispute over water from the Chitora stop dam.
Matters have reached a stage where half a dozen army men have been deployed to guard the stop dam, the source of water for the cantonment as well as farmers from the villages. The army men are patrolling a 12-km stretch near the dam, preventing them from drawing water, allege the villagers. In the past fortnight, they add, the army men have seized 14 electric water pumps and water pipes.
Chitora village sarpanch, Vijendra Singh, said: “This unusual step by the army has caused problems for irrigating farmland. Every year, we used to irrigate our crops with the water from this dam but this year they (the army men) are being very strict and are even stopping the farmers from tapping water from canals connected to the dam.”
Army officials say the water body was designated to army by the Sagar municipal corporation in 1995.
Sagar Army Headquarter Commandant, Colonnel Munish Gupta, said: “This is not the first time we have deployed a patrolling party. We are guarding our quota of water which was permitted by the Sagar municipal corporation.”
Sagar Municipal Corporation commissioner RP Ahirwar said, “It is true that we have permitted the army to draw water from Chitora stop dam but why are they stopping villagers from drawing extra water from canals and dam. We will inquire in the matter.”
“Last summer, we faced an acute water shortage. So, this year we came up with a strict plan to guard the water. So far, army men have seized as many as 14 electric motor pump of farmers for disobeying the army order to not take water from the water body,” Commander Gupta added.
Vinod Thakur, a farmer of Barkheri village is one such farmer who had his pump seized. “I was irrigating my land with an overflowing canal connected to the dam but the army patrol seized my motor and pipe. Now, I don’t know how to irrigate my 12 acres of land.”
The villagers claim the water body has traditionally irrigated their land.
Farmer Jahar Singh said: “This water body has been a source of drinking water for us for so many years. We have lodged a complaint with the district administration against the army. We urged the district administration to clearly demarcate the water body earmarking water for the army and the villagers.”
Local BJP MLA, Pradeep Lariya added: “Farmers are facing trouble and the district administration should come up with a solution. If the army is claiming it is their water, what arrangement has the administration made for irrigation of farmers? Things should be cleared by the administration to prevent any further confrontation.”
Deputy director of agriculture department, GD Nema, said, “This is an illogical step by army men as the district received 1717 mm rainfall this year, which is higher than average rainfall of 1124 mm and there is no fear of water crisis. Due to good rainfall, the sowing area of rabi crop has increased from 3 lakh hectare to 3.5 lakh hectare. If farmers don’t get water, it will affect the production of wheat.”
Sagar district collector, Preeti Maithil, said the administration is “looking into the matter.”