Odisha‘s Manjhi: This man carves out kilometre-long canal to irrigate land

KEONJHAR: , a 70-year-old tribal man of village Baitarani under Banspal block of Keonjhar district in Odisha, has carved out about a kilometre-long canal in a stream to irrigate his cultivated land.

Similar to Dashrath Manjhi of Bihar who is also called the , who had carved canal to bring water to his village by breaking rocks, Daitari Naik carved a canal to bring water down for cultivation.

“We are living in the forest area and mostly depend on cultivation as livelihood. Due to lack of irrigation facilities, we could not cultivate properly. Hence we worked for years with other family members together to clear the rocks and bushes to make the water come down,” said Daitari Naik.

When the district administration could not take steps to provide irrigation facility in the hilly area, the tribal people decided, on their own, to ensure water flows downstream to their cultivated land.

“Water scarcity in hilly area is acute. Hence we started work to ensure flow of water downstream for cultivation. Now we feel happy that we could cultivate properly,” said Mayadhar Naik, brother of Daitari.

Many villages in the forest-surrounded hilly area of tribal dominated Banspal, Telkoi, Harichandanpur blocks are facing water scarcity both for drinking and irrigation purpose. They mostly depend on rain water for cultivation and use dirty water from stream and pond for drinking. Several check dams, which were constructed in different streams in those area, are dry. Like Daitari, several tribal men worked hard to irrigate their cultivated land by carving out stone and bushes to bring water from the hill to downstream cultivated lands.

Sudhakar Behera, executive engineer, minor irrigation, Keonjhar division, said, “According to reports, the man dug canal to bring the water from Karatakata Nallah to downstream to use for cultivation. We will visit the village and take necessary steps to arrange water for irrigation purpose.”

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