AGRICULTURE AND IRRIGATION
"The Tapti and lesser streams are liable to sudden and disastrous rising of their waters. Six great floods caused more or less injury
in the district dining the nineteenth century.
In 1822 sixty-five villages were entirely destroyed by the Tapti, and fifty were partly washed away, causing a loss in money value of 2½ lakhs.
In 1872 the Girna and Panjhra rose 45 feet above the level of the river bed, the latter sweeping away five hundred houses in the town of Dhulia. A whole village on the opposite side of the river suddenly disappeared. One hundred and fifty-two villages were damaged, and property to the value of 16 lakhs was destroyed. Over one thousand persons were on this occasion relieved by public and private charity".[Imperial Gazetteer of India, Provincial Series. Bombay Presidency Vol. I,
"In 1829, in Nandurbar, for three miles on both the banks of the Tapi. the country was flooded. The Land was under water for three days, and much of it was injured by a thick deposit of sand
and gravel. [Bom. Govt. Set. XCIII 468.]
In 1837, in the same flood (29th August) that did such damage in Surat, several villages built on the lower or yellow soil bank of the Tapi were swept away. The destruction of life and property was great, and those of the inhabitants that had the good fortune to escape were left destitute. As almost all the villages on the lower bank suffered and many were entirely swept away. the new villages were in several cases built on the black soil of the higher bank which had been flooded.
In 1872, on Sunday the 15th September, the districts bordering on the Girna and the Panjhra suffered from a severe flood. At Dhulia, on the Panjhra, the rain began to fall steadily about noon on Friday the 13th, and continued heavily the whole of Saturday and the greater part of Sunday. Before Sunday morning the river was in very high Hood, sweeping over the Agra Road bridge, carrying away the solid stone parapet and the whole of the roadway, and in Dhulia destroying 500 houses chiefly in the division of the town known as Briggs Peth. A rest house close to the bridge, built at a cost of Rs. 2,000 was entirely destroyed, and another was much damaged. The village of Deopur on the other side of the river entirely disappeared, and one man, a Gosavi, was drowned. A telegraph post near the bank of the river on the Dhulia side, was washed away and communication stopped. At seven in the morning the flood was at its highest, standing about forty-five, feet above the level of the river bed. About three hours later it began to fall and by noon most of the water in the town had subsided. On the Girna, rain began about midnight of the 13th (Friday) and continued till eleven on the night of the 14th. when a violent hurricane set in. About eleven on the morning of the 15th, the Girna began to overflow, and the flood increased till about half past nine that night, the water was ten feet higher than it had ever been known to rise. Of 152 villages damaged by the flood, fifty-six were altogether destroyed. Of the whole number fifty were on the Panjhra, thirty two of them in Dhulia, six in Virdel, and twelve in Amalner. The remaining 102 were on the Girna, forty of them in Pachora, thirty-six in Erandol, and twenty six in Chalis-gaon. A vast amount of property both movable and immovable was lost. Number of dams, bandharas, and water channels, pats and several large ponds watering thousands of fields, were either completely destroyed or badly damaged. Exclusive of damage to soil,
trees, crops, and public works, the flood was calculated to have caused a loss of more than Rs. 16,00,000. Besides Bhils and other forest tribes 5,493 families were left destitute. For the first five or six days, they were supported by private charity, those in and around Dhulia receiving some help in the shape of grain from the balance of the Khandesh rice fund. [This was what remained of a former grant by the late Mr. Rustmaji jamsetji Jijibhai of Bombay, for relief of famine.] As reports of distress began to come in from different parts of the district, a public meeting was held at Dhulia. and a relief fund committee formed. Government placed at the Collector's disposal Rs. 20.000, Rs. 5,000 to be distributed free, and Rs. 15,000, to which a further sum of Rs. 1,00,000 was afterwards added, to be given in advances, takavi. Private subscriptions amounted to as much as Rs. 35,435. Of this sum Rs. 34,895 were distributed among 1492 families, and Rs. 600 were spent in charity by the collector and Rs. 69,739 were advanced to 1164 persons.
On the 6th July 1875 a sudden local rainfall so swelled the Arunavati, a tributary of the Tapi, that it flooded the town of Shirpur, the water in places standing six feet deep, injuring fifty-two houses and destroying property of the estimated value of Rs. 32.000. On the 5th September 1876, the back water from a heavv Hood in the Tapi overflowed its tributaries, the Girna, the Anjani. and the
Arunavedic causing much damage to crops ".
In, 1930, the river Arunavati was in flood. It affected the town of Shirpur. The damage to property was 5 to 6 lakhs of rupees. No loss of human life or cattle was reported but crops were washed away. The amount of Rs. 153 as land revenue was remitted to agriculturists.
The Arunavati again rose in high floods on 12th July 1941 when its water entered the town of Shirpur and completely submerged some of its areas. The water-level rose to a height of 6 feet. The corn stores, one oil mill and bazar shops were considerably damaged. The total loss caused was estimated at Rs. 42,300. Prompt measures were taken to remove the corn.
In 1944, the Panjhara and other rivers were heavily flooded and affected the Dhulia town and other 94 villages from Dhulia, Shirpur, Sindkheda, Shahada, Nandurbar and Sakri talukas. The total damage to property was estimated at Rs. 5,87,031. Thirteen human lives and 189 cattle were lost. The damage caused to crops in an area of 2873 acres was estimated at Rs. 87,577.962 acres of land of the value of Rs. 74,207 and 1212 houses were washed away. Other moveable property worth Rs. 1.75,722 was also lost. Prompt and generous relief was given to the victims both by government and the public. The government placed Rs. 50,000 at the disposal of the Collector for gratuitous relief and rupees one lakh as tagai loan for the affected agriculturists and non-agriculturists for purchasing agricultural implements and rebuilding of houses and huts, respectively. Clothing
consisting of 500 saris, 640 dhotis, 945 yards of shirtings and 950 blankets were distributed to the flood affected persons. In Dhulia town, mochis residing on the bank of the Panjhara river who lost all their belongings, were given Rs. 1,390 for purchase of implements and Rs. 3.000 as loan for the joint purchase of leather, while a sum of Rs. 1,741 was disbursed among other needy and affected persons. Clothing worth Rs. 4,105 was given to the poor and needy. An amount of Rs. 611 was spent on food and other sundry things. The Dhulia Municipality also spent Rs. 1,339 on relief measures.
On 20th July 1948, Arunavati and other rivers and nallas were heavily flooded. Water rushed into the Shirpur town and part of the town in low lying area was submerged in water from 7 to 9 feet. The floods affected Shirpur town, Navadne village in Sakri taluka and three villages in Sindkheda taluka. in Shirpur town the huts of the poor were completely washed away. No loss of human life was reported, 60 cattle died of suffocation. In Navadne village four persons lost their lives while other damage was estimated at Rs. 812. In Bhavade village huts valued at Rs. 874 were washed away. In Jogshelu village, the damage was estimated at Rs. 560. In Dondaieha two human lives were lost and three cattle were missing. Gratuitous relief amounting to Rs. 5,005 was given to the sufferers. Interest free tagai loans were also granted.
[ The account of floods between 1930 and 1948 is based on the information
supplied by the Collector of Dhulia.]