BALASORE: The summer is likely to pinch the Balasore farmers hard this time. With no measures taken yet to repair the defunct lift irrigation projects (LIPs) the farmers are apprehensive of bad crop.
As many as 1,043 lift irrigation projects out of 2,147 have gone defunct. The State Government has literally failed to provide irrigation facilities to the non-irrigated areas.
Sources said, in several LIPs motor and iron pipes have been damaged, power supply has been snapped to a number of LIPs due to non-payment of electricity dues. Similarly, several other projects are non-functional, as electric wires have been stolen.
Farmers said though there is a requirement for twice the number of existing projects in the district, the existing ones do not meet the needs even partially. Nearly 50 per cent projects in the district are either defunct or non-operational. Forget kharif season, they are not even getting a drop of water from these projects during the rabi.
“What worries them more is that some of the LIPs are non-operational due to lack of coordination between the LI and electricity officials. Though the projects are close to the crop land, the latter is deprived of water when it requires the most,” said Rabindra Das, a farmer of Remuna.
This apart, the farmers from Nilagiri, Oupada, Khaira and Simulia blocks have demanded more LIPs as these areas have only a few of them. Though some parts of other blocks get water from river sources, the farmland in these four blocks totally depends on rain due to lack of other irrigation facilities.
This deficiency, however, is a blessing in disguise for some. Those who have sunk shallow tube-wells are raking in the moolah. In the absence of LIPs, they supply water from their tube-wells and charge the farmers heavily as water cess.
The farmers who often borrow from private moneylenders to meet the expenses suffer if the yield falls short of target.
Sources said there are as many as 26,325 private shallow tube-wells in 12 blocks of the district and they somehow manage to irrigate a large area during rabi season.
Executive Engineer Srinibas Nayak said efforts are on to renovate defunct LIPs before the crop season. “We have nothing to do with the electricity dues as the projects have been handed over to pani panchayats having 40 to 50 farmers who used to pay the bills. Some of the projects have been damaged due to rusting of iron pipes which will be replaced,” he said. Another 151 new projects have been sanctioned for the district in 2010-11 and 2011-12 fiscals, he added.