Odisha tribal does a Manjhi, digs 3-km water channel through mountain
The muddy stream of water that courses through the pebble and boulder-filled stretch of Gonasika mountain for 3 km before reaching Talabaitarani village could only have been a pipe dream for the people till 2013. But one man’s obsession and determination to get water to his farmlands proved nothing is insurmountable.
Like Dasrath Manjhi who moved mountains to build a road in Jharkhand, 75-year-old tribal man Daitari Nayak in Odisha’s Keonjhar district carved a 3-km-long canal through a mountain helping irrigate 100 acres of lands in his village.
Nayak, a 75-year-old farmer of Talabaitarani village in Banspal block of Kenojhar district started digging through the Gonasika mountains in 2010 as erratic rains would fail his crops repeatedly. The only way he could get water to his barren lands was from a nearby stream that came out from Gonasika mountains.
Armed with a hoe and a crowbar, Nayak started digging through the mountainous roads while villagers sneered at his effort. But an undeterred Nayak carried on for some months till he was joined by his four brothers. The villagers joined in only after the canal built by Nayak and his brothers with pebbles, mud and rocks neared their village.
The 3-km-long canal was finally completed in 2013 and has helped irrigate over 100 acres of land in Talabaitarani village for last 5 years. The villagers are now growing paddy, maize and mustard as well as some vegetables.
Keonjhar district collector Ashish Thakre described Nayak’s exploits as tremendous. “At his age he has shown determination and grit. The district administration would surely help Nayak and the villagers to make the structure a concrete one. We are also planning a permanent check dam,” said Thakre.
The district administration is also planning to felicitate Nayak for his efforts in bringing water to the village farms. Odisha Congress president Niranjan Patnaik said CM Naveen Patnaik should learn from Nayak and address irrigation problems in State.
Early this year, another tribal in Kandhamal district too came into prominence for building a 8-km road through the mountains so that his three sons could travel to a nearby school without any hinderance. Jalandhar Nayak, 45 hammered his way through a mountain Kandhamal for 2 years as his sons were finding it difficult to cross the hillocks and reach school.