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As summer approaches, Goa farmers stare at parched farmlands despite presence of four rivers

The farmers in Sattari taluka, located at the foot of the Sahyadri Hills, are staring at parched farmlands despite the presence of four rivers and several tributaries there.

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As summer approaches, Goa farmers stare at parched farmlands despite presence of four rivers
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The farmers in Sattari taluka, located at the foot of the Sahyadri Hills, are staring at parched farmlands despite the presence of four rivers and several tributaries there.

This taluka, once among the greenest patches of land in the state, has four rivers Mahadayi, Valvanti, Ragada and Velus besides several smaller tributaries that are up to the brim during monsoon but dry during summer.

These tributaries include Mauxi, Khotodem Nala, Advoi, Dharkhand, Shelpkhurd, Dhavem, Mauloli, Honda, Shigne, Brahmakarmali, Charavane among others.

With the shutting down of the mining industry there, many people are coming back to farming and lack of water for irrigation was playing spoilsport, farmers told PTI.

"The mining industry has shut down in the area and people will like to go back to traditional farming since the government provides support. However, lack of water means they are left distressed," Abhay Nanodkar, a farmer from Valpoi town in Sattari said.

He said that "bandaras" or reservoirs were in a dilapidated condition and worn out iron plates were failing to prevent the water from seeping downstream, leading to low water levels in the reservoirs.

These reservoirs, built by the Water Resources department, were meant to save monsoon water for use during the summer, said the farmer.

"The sweltering summer heat leaves Sattari dry. The reservoirs fail to arrest water. We don't get sufficient water for our crops, we have requested the water resources department several times to repair them but our grievances go unheard," said farmer Ladoo Gaonkar.

State government records show that since 2004, when the first of these "bandaras" was built, the department has constructed 74 reservoirs, seven on Mahadayi and 67 on the tributaries.

While many farmers have installed pumps to lift water, the government says it has set up 350 pumps to help in irrigation.

"The farming and dairy business go hand in hand. It is inspiring to see that even the younger generation in Sattari taluka is into farming. But water scarcity has been a major source of discouragement," said Sufiyan Shaikh, a young farmer from Valpoi who grows arecanut, banana, coconut and other crops.

When contacted, State Water Resources department minister Vinod Palyekar said that he would look into the matter and ensure that files pertaining to issues in Sattari were cleared quickly.

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