Sharmili Mallick

Deficit rainfall coupled with inadequate irrigation coverage because of alleged faulty design of the canal has rendered thousands of farmers in Dhenkanal district stare at an imminent drought-like situation during the ongoing Kharif season.

Over 30 farmers of Nuapada village in Radhadeipur Panchayat under Sadar block of the district cultivate on around 70 acres of land and fetch good profits every year. However, the farmlands have become parched due to scarce rainfall this monsoon.

As per Regional Meteorological Centre in Bhubaneswar, Dhenkanal has received 685.1 mm rainfall from June 1,2021 till September 2,2021 which accounts for 25 percent deficit rainfall.

Making situations worse, though a tributary of the Rengali canal passes through the 70-acre farmland, it is of no use for the farmers because of faulty design.

“The water in the canal is at a lower level than the farmland. Therefore, we are unable to use the canal water for irrigation purposes. The government should declare drought and provide us assistance, or make facilities for irrigation,” demanded a farmer, Manoranjan Parida.

Another farmer, Akshaya Sahoo, alleged, “We have never faced drought ever since we began cultivating here.  However, following the construction of the canal in the vicinity of the farmland, we have been facing drought-like situation. Though we have intimated the issue to the concerned authorities multiple times, our problems have not been resolved as yet,” he added.

Not just Sadar block, thousands of farmers in Odapada block too are facing the same situation due to improper irrigation facilities and scanty rainfall this year. The farmers said they might face drought if the situation persists.

On the other hand, the District Chief Agriculture Officer admitted that due to the faulty design of the Rengali canal, the farmers in the region failed to use the water for irrigation.

“The level of water in the canal is lower than the farmland. Therefore, water cannot reach the farmland and flow irrigation is also not possible there. If the concerned farmers constitute a Pani Panchayat or farmer producers group, we can install a river lift irrigation facility near the canal with the help of Odisha Agro Industries Corporation or Lift Irrigation Corporation,” suggested Anshuman Patnaik, the District Chief Agriculture Officer of Dhenkanal.