Bhubaneswar: The refreshing greens in more than 100 acres of agriculture land in and around the Baitarni village in Banspal block of Keonjhar owe it all to the grit and determination of one single man. Meet Daitari Nayak, a 70 year old farmer who single-handedly carved out a three kilometer canal from the Gonasika mountains so that the water stream could reach down and irrigate the parched fields and settlements below.
The "canal man", as people fondly call him, used his digging bar and hoe to patiently cut the mountain and clear the rocks for a period of four years to make the stream slowly snake down to his fields.
"My fields were dry and there was no other way I could water them. The only option was to use the water from the nearby hill. When I first began cutting the mountains, many laughed at me but a few months later , my five brothers joined me. Together we made this happen" Daitari recalls.
"It is the fruit of our efforts and we are happy for being able to make this channel for the villages. There were times when the task would get extremely difficult but we never gave up," says Daitari.
"We used only digging bars and hoes to cut the channel. It took us four years but we are happy that we finally completed it. The smiles on the faces of our family and other villagers are our reward," said a proud Mayadhar Nayak, Daitari's brother.
Now that the canal is ready, villagers wish that the structure could be given a concrete lining to ensure a smooth flow of water. "The government can help us in improving the structure. This will benefit all the villagers with a perennial supply of water for irrigation purposes," another villager Kulamani Behera, opined.
Nayak's story brings alive memories of Dasrath Majhi, the lone man from Bihar who built a road through mountains so that his villagers could access better health care. It is worth while to mention that a Bollywood film was also made on the mountain man.
Meanwhile officials of the district administration, after being intimated about the news, expressed their willingness to do the needful for maintenance of the stream.
"I along with my team will visit the site and study what can be done. We shall create a permanent check dam and line the channel with concrete," said Sudhakar Behera, Executive Engineer, Minor Irrigation Department.