Bhavnath Temple

After the country became independent in 1947 the attention of the central and provincial government - the political and administrative arrangement in 1947 - was naturally directed towards plans for all-round economic development. Even before the attainment of independence, some concerted action in the field of economic development was mooted. But efforts in this regard were naturally limited and it was a popular argument that once political power came into the hands of Indians scope for economic development will enlarge. It was hoped that both in the field of planning and implementation economic development would become an achievable goal. THE NEED In the undivided Bombay province a proposal was worked out to build earthen dams across the rivers Lokmata and Satmata in the northern part of Gujarat. The dams were calculated to impound 4700 million cu. ft. of water to develop irrigation of 92,000 acres of land in three districts. The creation of this reservoir would result in submerging 10,500 acres of land belonging to some 20 villages. Out of these eight, villages would get completely submerged and the government accordingly prepared plans to resettle the affected people. This was a difficult task because the people who were being displaced had to be provided not only with houses but also new sources of livelihood. Transferring the population of these villages had several other problems due to which the authorities sometimes wondered about the feasibility of the scheme, although they felt that the scheme would be useful. THE FEASIBILITY The proposed reservoir was to have a catchments area of 230 sq. miles. The average rainfall in the area was 34 inches. In the original plan of project the F.S.L.(full supply level), H.F.L. (highest flood level) and top of the dam level were fixed at R.L.(reduced level) 592, 596 and 601 respectively. Those control levels were designed to raise the irrigation potential and thereby benefit the agricultural production in that area. The directly irrigable area from the project was to be 19,300 acres and the indirect benefit of irrigation was to flow to some 73,600 acres of additional land. The irrigation project was to yield annually Rs. 15.83 lakhs of revenue at completion (the return being calculated at 4.37 per cent). The increase in agricultural production was estimated as 30,400 tons every year and it was valued at Rs. 147.74 lakhs. Even after adding compensation to the villagers for the submerged land, cost of providing for new houses and cost of constructing the dam, the government was fully convinced about the feasibility of the project. The government was therefore determined to have the dam constructed. THE PROBLEM The three control levels of the dam (FSL, HFL and RL) calculated on the above basis would result in the submergence of the temple of Bhavnath located in the projected reservoir. This was an old temple to which the inhabitants of the region traditionally owned reverence. Population from the surrounding areas also visited the temple to worship the deities. The annual fair at the temple used to attract people from for off destinations. The temple had a dharmsala, suryakund,

The villagers were against the construction of the dam due to submergence of the temple and they made a strong representation to the government.9 crores. This seemed to satisfy the people.. The government on its part agreed to amend the plans to protect the temple and also agreed to provide an all-weather access to the temple. sums were approved for the construction of these safeguards. The Minister convinced a meeting to discuss the problem. With the raised FSL the irrigation facilities would spread to a larger area and consequently the increase in agricultural production and revenues. The agenda was obvious: what course of action should the government adopt? . They were inclined to accept the second alternative as recommended by the Bombay Government to shift the temple to a suitable and a generally acceptable place. The government began to consider selecting an alternative location where the deities of the temple could be shifted. But this would mean that the temple could not be saved. IN SEARCH OF THE SOLUTION The state of Bombay was bifurcated in 1980 and newly formed State of Gujarat began to think about the plans for increasing agricultural production.7 crores. In terms of the cost there was an increase from Rs. It was also agreed to provide gates on the water weir so that the floodwater did not rise to endanger the temple. During these meetings it was felt that for increasing irrigation potential the three control levels had to be raised so that the capacity of reservoir rises from 4700 million cu. 1. (originally) to 5700 million cu. ft.yagnakund. The FSL was to be raised to 595 and the HFL to 605. But the people remained adamant in their demand to save the temple. THE ALTERNATIVE Before the final proposal was formulated several meeting were held in Bombay. The engineers in the Public Works Department reported they met to the Minister-in charge. to Rs. 1. there was only a marginal addition to the cost of constructing the canal system. According to the prevailing legend the temple was connected with Bhrugu Rishi of ancient times. Further. But they met with the same kind of adamant opposition. bhrugukund and a few small temples around the main temple. Additional. ft. observing full religious rites.

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