Once a perennial river, the Mahanadi was the pride of Odisha with its vast water and somnolent breeze. However, the picture is no longer the same.
With the river being reduced to a stream with each passing day, it is slowly becoming a shadow of its former self leaving the farmers of the riparian areas to fend for themselves.
Why Mahanadi is drying up? Has Chhattisgarh shut the sluice gates of Kalma barrage? Is the government aware of the moves of the neighbouring state? There are several questions in the mind of common people, but with no answers from the government.
“We have to dig out the sand in the riverbed to fetch water now. Imagine, what will be the situation during summer. The entire farming community who depend on the Mahanadi River will die of starvation. Had the government constructed barrages, the situation would have been different,” said a farmer, Gobinda Mishra.
Another farmer Bijay Dash said, “The situation is so worse that anything can happen at any moment. Even a stream will have more water than Mahanadi. This is scary.”
The decline in water level has been ascribed to a decrease in water inflow to the Hirakud dam. Last year on this day, the dam received 9,848 cusec water and also released the same. However, this year, the dam received only 585 cusecs today while 8,180 cusec water was released.
This drastic decrease in water inflow to Hirakud has become a matter of serious concern.
When contacted, Anand Chandra Sahu, Chief Engineer, Hirakud Dam said, “We received only 3mm rainfall in October this year. There has been not a single drop of rain since then. So, it is obvious that there will be a decrease in the water inflow. But, I assure you that the water in Hirakud Dam is more than sufficient for all our requirements.”
However, locals and farmers have raised apprehensions over the issue.
“If this is the situation during winter, imagine what will happen during peak summer. This will severely affect irrigation, drinking water facilities and electricity production,” said a farmer. Many farmers even forewarned that there will be power cuts during summer if the situation continues to prevail.
(Reported by Rabindra Hota, Sanjay Jena, Harihar Chand, OTV)