The state government invariably claims to have done a lot on the irrigation front, but lack of rainfall and irrigation facilities has rendered thousands of acres of farmlands in Odisha fallow, dry, and even parched this year. For want of water, crop damage was reported from various parts while drought situation is looming large in some other areas.
Affected farmers have demanded that the government declare their affected areas as drought-hit and pay compensation for the crop loss.
Amid all this reported mess, a farmer, allegedly debt-ridden, committed suicide in Ranpur area of Nayagarh district on Sunday, after he was heartbroken to see the crop damage on his farmland. The deceased was identified as Gobinda Sahu of Ostapada.
Bikram Sahu, son of the deceased farmer alleged that the crops in the farmland got damaged for want of rain while the existing irrigation facility is inadequate enough to cater to the farming. “My father was shocked to see the damaged crops, as he had borrowed and taken loans worth over Rs 1 lakh. He was always worried about paying off the debt. The damaged crops dashed all his hope of a bumper harvest,” Bikram lamented.
Crop damage was also reported from other parts of the district. The deplorable condition of the crops at the time of harvesting came to the fore on Monday when hundreds of farmers holding damaged paddy plants staged protests near the collectorate. Acres of farmlands in Muthagadia and Bhatasahi panchayats in Nayaragh are facing drought-like situations. Hundreds of affected farmers tried to storm into the collectorate, demanding immediate arrangement of water for the parched farmlands.
They alleged that no water is coming from the nearby dam. Narmada Goud, a woman farmer of Ranpur lamented that the crops got blighted due to want of water.
Nayagarh Collector Rabindranath Sahu said that steps were taken to channelize water into the farmlands from a nearby dram. “Water had been released under police protection earlier. The water level in the dam is low. We will take steps to save the crops,” he added.
The situation is no different in some parts of Sorada and other parts of Ganjam. Acres of farmlands are cracked open due to insufficient water. As there is little chance of crop harvesting, some farmers have allowed cattle to graze on the farmlands. Drought-like situation was reported from many villages including Binjigiri, Bahadapadar, Kajuri Palli, Nuagan and Badagada.
Udaynath Mahakud, a farmer of Binjigiri, said that rain has vanished and farmlands are dry. Others said that no irrigation facilities have been made in the villages.”Crops always depend on monsoon rains. If a check dam had been built across Rola creek, at least 25 acres of farmlands would have been irrigated, they noted. Though the farmers had apprised the administration of the need for irrigation, no step has been taken in this direction so far, they rued.
The condition of acres of farmlands in Khalikote and Ganjam blocks is no different. Farmers here lamented that they could not irrigate their farmlands in the absence of irrigation facilities. Five panchayats like Sanramchandrapur, Jharodi, Radhagobindapur, Ramgad, and Subalaya under Ganjam block are also affected by drought. Bhabagrahi Nahak, a farmer of Ganjam said that the farmers are now worried about their survival after crops got damaged due to lack of rain.
Hemanta Nahak of the same area said that the government promised irrigation and came to power, but later did nothing. “In the 2024 elections, people will boycott elections,” he warned.
Upset over the lack of irrigation, they have decided to boycott the upcoming elections.