LUCKNOW: The weeklong downpour has thrown the normal life out of gear across Uttar Pradesh but on the flipside, it came as a boon for the rivers which had been gasping for life for quite some time much to the concern of irrigation department.
Be it the prominent Gomti in Sultanpur, Jaunpur or even Lucknow or Varuna in Varanasi, all had taken the shape of a nullah (drain) in summers due to paucity of water. Similar was the plight of Suheli in central-western UP, Hindon in western UP, Betwa and Ken, the tributaries of the Yamuna in Bundelkhand region of the state, Sai in central UP, Aami, a tributary of Rapti and Kuano in eastern UP.
All were dying in dearth of water. But after the widespread rains across the state for the last 10 days, all of them are flowing above the danger mark.
Though lakhs of people were rendered shelterless after swollen river waters entered their homes, the irrigation department officials, who had been busy charting out a revival plan for all these rivers, have heaved a sigh of relief.
“We did have a number of meetings with our central counterparts and officers of the department of water resources and River Development last year to find ways for the revival of a number of state rivers,” said a senior official of irrigation department.
In fact, the dearth of water has resulted in the deposition of silt and sewage in the riverbed. Moreover, encroachment in embankment areas by the farmers who have constructed drains to divert water from rivers directly to their fields had made the situation worse.
In the wake of the situation turning grimmer with each passing year, the government had chalked out an elaborate plan which envisaged cleaning of the riverbeds, ridding the embankment areas of encroachments, constructing drains to divert the industrial waste falling into these rivers and also constructing check dams to harvest rainwater in substantial amount during monsoons, shared an irrigation official.
Even in some districts, canal water was diverted to revive the Gomti, Sai and the Aami. But the scheme had to be dropped owing to huge protests by the farmers, who alleged that the water used for irrigation purpose was being wasted by diverting it into the rivers.
Simultaneously, the water conservationists including the waterman Rajinder Singh pushed the demand to rid the embankment areas of different drying rivers of encroachment to revive the rivers. In some of the districts like Lucknow, Unnao, Pilibhit, Hardoi and Lakhimpur Kheri, the encroachment on such a large scale that farmers were even found to have planted paddy crop in the embankment areas of the rivers.
During summers, when parched land of Bundelkhand region was craving for water, the respective district administrations of Banda, Chitrakoot and Jhansi had deployed police force in the embankment areas of Betwa. Ken and other tributaries of Yamuna for regular patrolling to check diversion of the water to the fields by the farmers.
September also brought relief for the drought-hit Bundelkhand and other rain deficient river basin regions leading to significant rise in the water level of the rivers.
However, Varuna rose so high in Varanasi that it flooded the Sarnath area, Aami inundated farms in Siddharthanagar and Sant Kabir Nagar and the waters of Chandrawal flooded the villages in Banda and Mahoba in Bundelkhand.