Paralakhemundi: Years ago, Mahendratanaya river flowing through Gajapati district and neighbouring Andhra Pradesh was full to the brim with water almost throughout the year.
However, this summer the riverbed has dried up, signaling severe drinking water crisis and problems for farming in most riparian pockets of this southern district.
Shortage of water in the river has resulted in acute crisis for the farming sector and people living in this town and its peripheral areas, a report said.
According to the report, vegetables farmers doing cultivation on thousands of hectares of farmlands in Gosani and Rayagad blocks of the district are facing the brunt of water shortage in the river.
Drinking water crisis is already pinching the people in the region, it was said. Deficit rainfall in the region and poor flow of water from various hill streams are responsible for water shortage in the river this summer.
The PHEO supplies drinking water to the town. The water of Mahendratanaya is drawn through pipes near Brundaban palace. The water is treated and supplied to households in the town.
As there is little water in the river, the PHEO had to dredge the river bed to channelise water to the mouth of the suction pipes. To compound problems, the municipality has not taken any steps to conserve water of the river and rainwater for the summer, locals alleged.
It is said that in the monsoon, the water flows into Andhra Pradesh. The Odisha government has not set up any barrage to conserve water for its use on its side.
On the other hand, the neighbouring state is making use of most of the water of Mahendratanaya for various purposes by building some barrages. It has also started construction of Apsara project on Mahendratanaya to use its water.
After the start of the Apsara project, the Odisha government was jolted into action. It then took a decision to set up barrages on the upper reaches of the river at Dambapur and Champapur.
However, the blueprint of the Champapur project has not been finalised while the Dambapur project has not been made operational in the last 13 years.
Many local residents and intellectuals observed that the Odisha government should take expeditious step for conservation projects in the upper region of the river so that it can be used in Gajapati district during summer and other seasons.
As for water crisis, assistant engineer of the PHEO division, Swagat Kumar Nayak said that water will be supplied to people through tankers.