KEONJHAR: Daitari Nayak, a 70-year-old Odisha farmer, has single-handedly carved out a three- kilometre long canal from the Gonasika mountains in Keonjhar district to the parched land in the downstream for to ensure flow of water for cultivation. Fondly called ‘Canal Man’, Mr Nayak patiently cut the steep hillsides for four years and cleared the rocks to make the stream snake down.
“My fields were dry and there was no other way I could water them,” recalled Mr Nayak on Wednesday. “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.”
He said the canal is the fruit of the joint efforts and that they are happy for being able to make the channel for the villages. “There were times when the task would get extremely difficult but we never gave up,” said Mr Nayak.
“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 rewards,” said Mayadhar Nayak, his brother.
Now that the canal is ready, residents of his Baitarani village 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 the village with a perennial supply of water for irrigation,” another villager, Kulamani Behera, said.
Mr Nayak’s story brings alive memories of Dasrath Manjhi, a man from Bihar who single-handedly built a road through mountains so that his villagers could access better health care.
Officials of the district administration, after being intimated about the news, offered to help in the maintenance of the stream. “The government will soon build a check-dam at Baitarani so that they can have adequate water for irrigation,” said Sudhakar Behera, executive engineer, minor irrigation, Keonjhar division....