BARIPADA: Government neglect has taken its toll on century-old Baldiha Dam in Shamakhunta block of Mayurbhanj district. Built on river Palpala over 205 sqkm area, the irrigation project remains defunct for the last 20 years due to lack of renovation.
At present, 10 to 15 acres of land are being irrigated during Rabi season with the water from the dam while there is no irrigation for Kharif crop. The water level of the dam has drastically come down due to huge deposition of soil and leakages. Even water from Palpala river has failed to recharge the dam during rainy season.
Sources said the project was undertaken during the rule of Maharaja Shri Ramchandra Bhanjdeo and the then State Engineer Jarnold Martin Loe had constructed the dam at Baldiha, 28 km from Baripada town. The dam was lifeline for farmers of Balidiha, Tarajudi, Ghundapal, Dinai, Rangamatia, Khuntapal, Nuagaon, Bada, Salobani, Kuchiamora, Kissandahi, Kundalboni, Dhalok Pokhari, Bhulagadia, Kantapal, Khandia, Jagannathpur, Junudahi, Sindurgoura, Shamakhunta, Astia, Tikapara, Dhanpur, Ambadali, Asanbani, Jauali, Sankuladiha and Bada Kuldiha villages of the block who used to grow paddy both in Kharif and Rabi seasons.
The dam having a height of 7.21 metre and width of 1.60 metre has catchment area of 205 sqkm. While the length of the right main canal is 13.05 km, its left main canal covers 6.6 km. But the problems of the dam started in 1920 when its sluice gates were stopped working. Now the dam is lying in a deplorable condition.
Baldiha Sarpanch Guruprasad Dangua alleged that the dam has been neglected by the irrigation department for several years. Though he had met Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and submitted a memorandum demanding its repair and renovation last year, no step has been taken so far.
Even local MLA Sudam Marandi is yet to intervene in the matter despite repeated requests by farmers. “We have decided to call a meeting with all members of 14 gram panchayats soon. The meeting will take a resolution on the matter and it will be submitted to the Chief Minister,” he said.
Assistant Revenue Inspector (ARI) Bhagyashree Das said at present, 20 to 25 hectares of farm land are being irrigated from the dam while farmers of all the villages are paying the tax to the Government.
An engineer of Mayurbhanj irrigation division on condition of anonymity said poor water supply from river Palpala and lack of maintenance have led to the present condition of the dam. Immediate renovation is required to make it functional, he added.