Kaptipada: Even though the government attaches much importance to irrigation to boost agriculture, hundreds acres of land in rocky terrain at the foothill of Similpal are deprived of irrigation. Poor farmers decry the fact that agriculture has suffered in the absence of irrigation.
They pointed out that the government has set up a check dam at a cost of Rs 40 lakh in Kantial palchayat, but it is of no use for them because of its faulty and improper location and defective construction.
Local farmers alleged that Rs 40 lakh spent on the project has gone down the drain when they are in distress for want of rain in the current kharif season. Villages in JS Jamudiha panchayat are located at the foothills of Similipal. The farmlands are in hilly and forested region. Years ago, farmers used to press for damming up the water rolling down from the hills and using it for farming purpose later. Considering the demands of the farmers, the minor irrigation department initiated steps to dam up the water of Thakthaki river that flew down from Similipal. The minor irrigation department built the dam at Kantiali village in 2015-16 at a cost of Rs 40 lakh. When its work was undertaken, local farmers had found its location, construction and scheme faulty. Locals said vast swathes of farmlands have been out of its irrigation coverage.
After repeated complaints about the issue, the check dam was renovated in 2018-19 at a cost of Rs 15 lakh, but it still failed to deliver water to targeted area, rued farmers.
Farmers Mohan Das, Kushnachandra Biswal, Pitambar Nayak, Salaku Marandi and Nadha Senapati said that Rs 55 lakh has gone down the drain. They also pointed out that contractors did not carry out the renovation properly. The farmers had repeatedly drawn the attention of the Collector, the Vigilance and the executive engineer of the minor irrigation to the faulty location of the dam. But there has been no investigation into their allegations, the farmers alleged.
In the current kharif season, there is little rainfall to sustain paddy in the area while the dam is useless in saving the crops, Pal said.
The farmers lamented that hectares of farmland would have no crops this year too when the Rs 40 lakh dam is unable to deliver water.
Villagers said, the money spent for the facility has gone down the drain. If the dam had managed to retain water, domestic animals would drink from it while they would be making use of its water for paddy farming and vegetable cultivation. Locals warned that if no step was taken to make the dam useful for farming, they will take legal recourse. As for the problem, the executive engineer said the work is being probed.