Extending irrigation to new areas in the district seems to be a far cry as the existing canal system connected to the Pitamahal dam with ‘ayacut’ area of around 4,200 acres is in a shambles.
The main canal system that passes through industrial area of Kalunga has been reduced to a natural drain due to years of neglect while the branch lines at many places have stopped to exist.
Moreover, the concrete base of main canal has been reduced to trenches filled with wild growth and silt.
The minor canal has stopped to exist for several years now at Pharsatola of Jhartarang due to encroachment by the residential houses and roadside shops.
Assistant Engineer of Irrigation AK Panda said the main canal system is cleaned twice in a year by the department, while nine pani panchayats undertake repair and maintenance of the minor and sub-minor canals with annual budget of around ` seven lakh. “The Lathikata Tehsil office has been reminded several times to remove encroachments but to no avail,” said Panda.
For the Rabi crop, the reservoir targets to provide irrigation to around 2,800 acres. Water has already been released from last Sunday. But, barring some villages under Balanda and Kalunga gram panchayats, rest villages are unlikely to get irrigation.
Zilla Parishad member of Lathikata A Joseph Xess claimed that farmland along the canal systems gets water, but it hardly reaches the tail-end farmers who are practically deprived of irrigation facility.
Farmers of Chikatmati, Lungei, Beldihi and other villages continue to complain about lack of irrigation.
Inaugurated in 1976, the Pitamahal dam is a medium irrigation project under Balanda gram panchayat of Lathikata block in Panposh sub-division of Sundargarh district. With nine kms of main canal system and around 25 kms of minor and sub-minor canal systems, the medium irrigation project covers around 4,200 acres across more than 63 villages under Balanda, Kalunga, Jhartarang and Chikatmati gram panchayats of Lathikata and part of Rajgangpur block.