ROURKELA: The Agriculture department has set an ambitious target of cultivating 2.13 lakh hectares (ha) for paddy in the ensuing kharif crop season in Sundargarh district.
Of the total 3.13 lakh ha of land that will be cultivated in the next crop season, one lakh ha would be covered under pulses, oil seeds, cereals and vegetables. Though Deputy Director of Agriculture K N Mohapatra is hopeful of meeting the target, farmers of the rain-fed district have reasons to worry.
Ground water level has gone down drastically owing to the rising temperature and this has also rendered many of the irrigation projects defunct. To make things worse, many of the water bodies have dried up.
The district has irrigation coverage of about 46,000 ha for kharif season, provided all the irrigation projects work properly.
Sources in the irrigation wing and Agriculture department said minor irrigation projects (MIPs) feed from small water bodies and have total ayacut area of 16,000 ha. As on today, almost all the small water bodies have dried up and the situation will not improve until there is good rainfall.
Similarly, the Odisha Lift Irrigation Corporation (OLIC) has ayacut area of around 15,000 ha, but if water level of rivers and rivulets does not increase, then 4,000 to 5,000 ha would be devoid of irrigation. The OLIC depends on deep bore wells.
OLIC Executive Engineer Sushil Barik informed that of 4,605 deep bore wells, 3,600 have been energised with each bore well having ayacut area of two ha, but protective irrigation coverage of four ha in kharif.
The four Medium Irrigation Projects at Sarafgarh, Talsara, Pitamal and Kansbahal with ayacut area of about 12,300 ha are closed for irrigation from the last kharif season due to ongoing major renovation of the canal systems. Executive Engineer A K Biswal said four irrigation projects are under repair in this kharif season, but they have plan to release water for irrigation and for that heavy rains are required to enhance storage level.
Zilla Parishad member of Nuagaon block Pappu Sahu claimed that for rural population, drinking water issue has become the first priority.
He said only a robust monsoon can revive the dismal farm scenario.