Sai river ,tributary of Ganga in UP dries up due to neglect

Lucknow,Nov29:Manoj Kumar, a 35-year-old brick kiln owner, recalls how till 2006 he would drink water directly from the ‘Jhabar’ (pond) bordering his village. Ten years down the line, the water has been reduced to a trickle and is unfit for drinking, he says.Popularly known as Sai, the river mentioned as ‘Adi Ganga’ (ancient Ganga) in Tulsidas’ Ramcharitmanas, is today struggling for survival. It is drying up even at its source – a water table in Parsai, a village of 450 households in Hardoi, 180 km north of Uttar Pradesh capital Lucknow.

“We used to drink the water. But over the years, the river has dried up. We can’t even use this water to irrigate our farms,” says Kumar.

As the 2017 state assembly polls draw closer, Sai, like many rivers in the state, doesn’t seem to find a mention on the agenda of political parties.

Right from its origin at the sprawling pond on the hilltop, the river is like a stream for the next 25 km, till it reaches Rampur Koda village. Along its course, farming and constructions have encroached upon the catchment area, blocking the ground water source. Industrial effluents and domestic wastes make things worse.

“Tulsidas has mentioned the significance of this river in his works. Until 2005-06, its water used to irrigate crops up to 500 meters with the help of man-made trenches and over a km with pumps. Today, even farmlands close to the river have to use diesel pumps for irrigation,” says Sursen Pasi, an activist associated with ‘water man’ Rajender Singh.As the river flows downstream towards Lucknow, south of Hardoi district, unabated encroachments choke the ‘nullahs’ that add volume to the river enabling a better flow.

At Bani where the Sai bifurcates Lucknow and Unnao districts, shopkeeper Ram Vilas, 60, says the river used to be at its best during monsoons. But not any more.

“There has been insufficient rain. The water level has depleted, the nullahs blocked. Where will the water come from unless it is recharged?” asks Vilas.

After Hardoi, Unnao and Lucknow, the Sai flows through Rae Bareli, Pratapgarh and Jaunpur covering some 500 villages over a distance of 715 km before finally merging into the Gomti river at Jaunpur. The Gomti eventually joins the Ganga.