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Pani Panchayats in Odisha fail to serve farmers’ purpose

Allegations of political interference in awarding of contracts for repair and construction of irrigation tools along with delay in elections to the associations have caused resentment among farmers.

Published: 19th February 2020 07:48 AM  |   Last Updated: 19th February 2020 07:48 AM   |  A+A-

A farmer carrying  husk from a rice blast disease-affected paddy field in Tiruchy on Sunday

For representational purposes only (Photo | MK Ashok Kumar, EPS)

By Express News Service

JAGATSINGHPUR: Pani Panchayats (PPs) have failed to live up to farmers’ expectations in the district. 

Allegations of political interference in awarding of contracts for repair and construction of irrigation tools along with delay in elections to the associations have caused resentment among the farmers. 

There are 132 PPs in the district including 75 under Machgaon canal system of Jagatsinghpur irrigation division and 57 under Taladanda canal system.

Of 75 PPs under Machgaon, elections to four have not yet been conducted due to rivalry between political leaders and negligence of Water Resources department. 

Sources said at the lower level, a chalk committee is formed in the head, middle and tail-reach of the ayacut of an outlet.

A representative of outlet leaders of each of these committees is an executive member of PP.  The president, vice president, secretary and treasurer of PP or WUA are elected from the executive body of the concerned PP through an electoral process.

Farmers of PP no 37 under Jagatsinghpur irrigation division alleged that Water Resources officials had issued notification for elections to the PP last week.

However, election for the post of chalk committee leader and outlet leader was not held in violation of Odisha Pani Panchayat Rules-2003. 

Returning Officer, Jagatsinghpur irrigation section Himansu Panda admitted it is illegal to issue notification for elections to posts in PPs without electing outlet leaders.

He said the notification was cancelled and a fresh one for elections to PP no 37 and 38 will be issued soon. 

Executive Engineer of Mahanadi South Division Basant Rout said out of 57 PPs under Taladanda canal system, elections to eight were not held as the process is sub-judice.

Elections to the rest of the PPs will be held soon. Meanwhile, Jagatsinghpur Pani Panchayat Mahasangh has sought the intervention of Water Resource Minister Raghunandan Das for effective implementation of Pani Panchayats in the district. 

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