MALKANGIRI: Farmers depending on Potteru Irrigation project are a worried lot. Every crop season, water from the project fails to reach the tail end of its canals and its Surlikonda barrage is gradually losing its water storage capacity in the absence of desiltation at regular intervals.
While debris and mud have settled on the project reservoir bed, garbage is dumped into Surlikonda barrage and canals by locals daily.
With desiltation not being carried out at regular intervals, the water holding capacity of the irrigation project and barrage has come down over the years.
Built-in 1976, the Potteru irrigation project utilises the water released from Balimela Power House to Potteru river near Surlikonda village.
The Surlikonda barrage was constructed at the confluence point of tailrace channel of Balimela Power House and the river.
Two main canals - Gampakonda Main Canal and Tamsa Main Canal - branch out from the left and right banks of the barrage to provide irrigation water to farmers of more than 200 villages in the district.
The project was designed to provide irrigation to 19,680 hectare (ha) in kharif season and 16,993 ha in rabi. However, due to silting in canals and seepage, the irrigation water fails to reach tail end of the canals.
The total storage capacity of the barrage was 269.36 hectare-metre when it was made operational in 1976 but due to siltation and deposition of sediments on the river bed, its water storage capacity has now reduced to 166.70 hectare-metre, leading to wastage of water.
Potteru Irrigation Division sources said the loss of 112.60 hectare-metre can only be restored after desiltation as unnecessary wastage of water would be checked and water can be stored in the barrage for the release into both the canals, they added.
Water being discharged from Balimela Power House after power generation is not stored entirely in the barrage due to its low storage capacity thereby forcing the officials concerned to release the extra water to Potteru river.
Worse, the Water Resources Department is yet to come out with a proper plan to remove silt from the river bed, canals and Surlikonda barrage.
“In fact, desiltation exercise has never been done in any of the irrigation projects and water bodies in Malkangiri district even if their water storage capacity is reducing every year”, said environmentalist Santosh Kumar Sahu.Officials of the project said a desiltation proposal of Rs 17.48 crore is pending with the State Government.
Desiltation of Surlikonda barrage is important to prevent loss of water by maintaining the full gross storage capacity of 269.36 hectare-metre.
● The project was designed to provide irrigation to 19,680 ha in kharif season and 16,993 ha in rabi
● It has 2 main canals - Gampakonda Main Canal and Tamsa Main Canal - that branch out from the left and right banks of the barrage to provide irrigation water to farmers of more than 200 villages in the district.
● Due to silting in canals and seepage, the irrigation water fails to reach tail end of the canals