Over 10,000 hectare of agricultural land in the ayacut areas of Upper Kolab project do not get irrigation water either during kharif or rabi season.
The regulatory bodies of the project comprising 94 pani panchayats and nine distributary committees are responsible for supplying irrigation water to the areas spread across Jeypore, Kotpad, Kundra and Borrigumma blocks. Though Upper Kolab project has the capacity to irrigate 42,000 hectare (ha) of land through canal system, water fails to reach the tail-end areas due to negligence of officials of the Water Resources Department in repairing and cleaning the canals and sub-canals.
Pani panchayat leaders of Dhanapur, Padmapur, Pakhanaguda, Bagedri, Sankarada and Kotpad said water does not reach the tail-end areas of the canal systems that were laid 20 years back. As a result, over 100 villages that depend in these canals are deprived of irrigation water despite having the canals. Sources said due to lack of maintenance of side walls of the canals, presence of silt and mud, damages to main and sub-canals, smooth flow of water to agricultural fields is hampered.
For instance, though the Dhanpur distributary canal system is situated near the Kolab reservoir, farmers of the ayacut areas do not get irrigation water. Water pipes of Umuri-Targhai, Kumuliput-Kenduguda, Teluguguda-Solapa irrigation canals have been damaged for the last 10 years for which farmers do not take up cultivation during the rabi season.
“We have been drawing the attention of the Irrigation officials to repair and clean the canals so that water would reach the tail points. But none has paid heed to our demand yet,” said Binayak Madala, president of Majurmunda pani panchayat.
However, the authorities expressed their helplessness citing funds crunch to repair and de-silt the canals. Around `20 crore is required for maintenance of canals under Upper Kolab project every year to ensure smooth flow of water. But the Water Resources Department is allocating only `2 crore annually for the purpose, they said.