ROURKELA: The lift irrigation potential in Sundargarh district remains highly under-utilised with no mega project under operation. Though irrigation schemes and proposals are galore, several of those have been hanging fire for years.
Despite having 3.13 lakh hectares of cultivable land, absence of even a single mega lift irrigation project (LIP) has hit the farm sector badly. Though river Brahmani originates in Rourkela and a host of other rivers flow through the district, the irrigation coverage from all sources stands at less than 54,000 ha in kharif season and a meagre 18,000 ha in rabi season.
Though the Water Resources Department is moving ahead with mega LIPs on river Brahmani and other water bodies, uncertainty looms large over success of the projects. The Department faces a challenge after neighbouring Jharkhand on August 12 finalised proposals to set up five hydro electricity projects to generate 83 mw on upstream of rivers Koel and Sankh which meet at Vedvyas in Rourkela to form Brahmani. District authorities, however, are unaware of Jharkhand’s plans and no loss assessment has been done.
The Department has taken up 13 LIPs under Cluster-8 on Brahmani in Sundargarh, Keonjhar and Deogarh districts till Barkote to form about 16,000 hectares (ha) ‘ayacut’ area.
Executive Engineer of Mega Lift Projects, Keonjhar, Sujit Maharana said three of the projects fall in Bonai sub-division of Sundargarh district and work on laying the raft foundation for a pump house is underway by L&T company at Biritola of Lahunipara block. The proposed site at Satkuta in Gurundia blocks needs relocation due to soil test failure and no progress has been made on the third project in Bonai block. Each project would have ‘ayacut’ area of 1,000 to 1,500 ha, he added.
So far, Panposh and Bonai sub-divisions are able to irrigate around 5,300 ha from rivers Koel, Sankh and Brahmani through 257 small river lift irrigation points. Sub-Divisional Officer of Panposh Investigation Division of the Department Anakar Pandav said, it is suggested to set up a check dam for mega LIPs on river Deo at Jharbera in Kuarnmunda block and plans are also afoot for similar project on river Sankh near Sankh bridge with each project able to irrigate about 500 ha. The site for the proposed pick-up weir on river Koel near Jhirpani needs relocation for land issue, he said.
Several pick-up weirs/check dam projects are also under consideration in Sundargarh sub-division, while financial bids of two tenders are likely to be opened in two months for 18 mega LIPs on rivers Ib, Ichchha and Safei in the sub-division, Pandav informed.