Kendrapara: Farmers in Kendrapara district are a worried lot after the first floodwater was released from Hirakud dam Thursday.
From past experience, they say the floodwater released into the Mahanadi river will reach Mundali in Cuttack by Saturday and then it will reach their district. This season, they fear, the embankments that have gone weak may not stand the force of the floodwater.
“If the embankments get breached somewhere, there will be huge damage to the farmlands and open areas in low-lying areas of Kendrapara,” said a local.
There are seven rivers and 27 distributaries in Kendrapara district. These rivers and rivulets draw water from the Mahanadi and Brahmani river systems as well as from the Baitarani river.
Once water flowing in the Mahanadi system reaches the district, rivers such as Mahanadi, Luna, Chitratpola, Paika, Birupa and Gobari, and canals such as Kendrapara canal, Gobari canal and Pattamundai canal swell.
A rough estimate made by local farmers suggests that the flood water will affect 50,000 hectares of agricultural lands where kharif cultivation has just started.
According to Laxmikant Swain, a farmer from Mahakalpara block, after early rains owing to cyclone Amphan and monsoon, farmers have already prepared beds for kharif paddy. At some places, farmers have even begun paddy plantation. At the same time, some riparian farmers give importance to growing vegetable and they have vegetables in their farmlands. Flooding at this time will damage the crops extensively.
Swain rued that at places there are no embankments and at other places, the embankments are not strong enough to withstand the force of floodwater. If the farmlands get inundated, in absence of any facility to drain out the accumulating water, it will stand for days together.
“Most farmers have taken loans. And they are now in apprehension thinking about how they will repay the loans incase their crops go waste,” Swain added.
Another farmer Niranjan Parida from Kansara village under Kandrapara block said this year many labourers who returned from other states have tried their hands at cultivation. If the flood water causes damage to their crops, it will be a situation like ‘from frying pan to the fire’ for them.
When asked, a local farmers’ leader Gayadhar Dhal said, “The water resources department has not yet carried out embankment strengthening exercises. Similarly, the branch canals are covered with water weeds. No steps for their resurrection have been taken. The department has identified 24 such points where the embankment may breach owing to flood water. Since the branch canals are choked with weeds, the floodwater will hit hard the farmers.”
These apart, 55 revenue villages will bear the brunt as there are no embankments in the downstream of Mahanadi system.
Water resources department executive engineer Prabodh Kumar Rout, meanwhile, said that the weak embankments have been identified and are being repaired. The floodwater will not affect the crops, he assured.