Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

On the pretext of providing irrigation to farmlands, the Odisha government seems to have laid death traps. The open borewells dug for the purpose of irrigation are claiming lives in the State. Only a couple of days back, an old woman lost her life by falling into an open borewell in Sonepur.
As per reports, many unused borewells have been left open in hazardous conditions across the State. Due to the lackadaisical attitude of the Lift Irrigation Department, as many as 45,000 abandoned borewells dug under the Biju Krushak Vikash Yojana (BKBY) are lying open in dangerous conditions posing a threat to life.

An elderly woman from Kainphula village in Sonepur district recently lost her life after falling into a 20-feet deep abandoned borewell. Her daughter Rajanee Badamali is still mourning her mother's demise.

“I lost my mother due to the irresponsible attitude of the concerned department. I can’t get back my mother. However, I demand stern action against the persons responsible for the death of my mother,” said Rajanee.

Following the death of the elderly woman, the abandoned borewell, hidden amid grass and weeds, has been covered. As per reports, the borewell at Kainphula was dug under the Biju Krushak Vikash Yojana eight years ago. However, no electricity supply was ensured and it was left abandoned in a dangerous condition. The situation is no different in Kusuripali village under Sonepur block. As many as eight borewells have been left abandoned in the area. Though the Lift Irrigation Department has taken Rs 20,000 each from eight farmers, the borewells in their land are yet to be functional. 

Under such circumstances, forget about the success of the scheme, it has rather turned into a death trap.

“Many borewells have been lying abandoned in dangerous conditions across the district due to the irresponsibility of the officials of the Irrigation Department. We are even scared to send our children outside the house. Who knows these borewells could turn into death traps for anybody on a bad day. These abandoned borewells should be covered immediately. Otherwise, many valuable lives would be lost in the future,” said Sradhhanjali Mishra, a resident of Sonepur.

“We are trying our best to cover the abandoned borewells in the district at the earliest so that these kinds of unfortunate incidents can be prevented,” said Prafulla Behera, Executive Engineer of the Sonepur Lift Irrigation Department.

Earlier in December 2017, a small child had fallen into a 16-feet abandoned borewell at Golsara village under Kishore Nagar block in Angul district. Fortunately, the Fire Services Department managed to rescue the little girl after a seven-hour-long operation.

Deep borewells are being dug across the State under the Biju Krushak Vikash Yojana. However, in many places, these borewells are left abandoned due to various reasons. Around 1.5 lakh borewells have been built under the scheme across the State. However, 20-30 percent of the borewells are defunct due to many reasons. Moreover, 40 to 45 percent of the borewells have been left abandoned in the State.

As per the provision, the abandoned borewells should be covered with sand or soil. There is also a monetary provision from the government for this purpose. Now questions have been raised about why the abandoned borewells are not covered and how the money allocated for the purpose is being used? Several denizens have alleged that the officials involved in the scheme are involved in massive corruption.

Responding to the allegation, Odisha Lift Irrigation Corporation Chairman, Amaresh Patri said that action will be taken against the officials for this kind of irresponsible work.

“The borewells through which water could not be lifted due to whatever reasons should be covered with sand or soil. There are strict instructions in this regard to the contractors and officials. We will take strict action against the erring persons in this regard,” said Patri.