Kolab River’s And Its Contribution in Lives of Rural Populace

By Tripati Khura

River is the natural resource of the universe which contributes in various aspects of survival of the human beings, without water life would not possible. History states people prefer to settle down on the banks of rivers in order to make life comfortable and bountiful including supplies of fresh water and a fertile land for cultivation. The river bed furnishes rocks and sand that are used for construction purposes.

Absolutely, rivers are most significant financially viable source for the country as its the key in the production of electricity, transportation and functional to business as well as assisting the ecosystem by using various natural phenomena. People depend upon river for daily needs, livelihoods and no wonder, Indian people consider the river as goddess and from the holy water one can get salvation.

 Hydro electric project:

In order to develop renewable sources of energy in the state for sustainable development, Government of Odisha ventured into the hydro electric project. It aimed to generate 320MW (firm) Hydro Electric Power and average annual generation of 1554MU. The Planning Commission has approved the project in August 1975 by the Irrigation and Power Department, GoO with a vision to be a leading power utility in the energy sector through diversified energy portfolio with due care & concern to the environment. In addition, the local unskilled people got employment opportunity under this project making easier income for them.

Lift canal irrigation project:

The project provides irrigation facilities of approximately 48,000 hectares of land. The Planning Commission has approved the project in June 1976 to promote the irrigation system of the region. Intention was to alleviate of repeatedly occurring drought damage, as a part of the food self-sufficiency policy.

Fig.1. Vegetable cultivation at river bank

Earlier, the quality of agriculture production was uncertain for the farmers. many remained poor and a big number of them comprises of scheduled caste and scheduled tribe. Keeping this in mind, the seventh five-year plans government initiated for expanding irrigation land 2.5 million hectares per year. In ninth five-year plans government concluded that “provision of irrigation facilities is the optimal tool for alleviating poverty in agricultural districts.”

The project was designed to improve agricultural production and policies that stress improvement in the lives of scheduled tribes and scheduled caste by constructing irrigation facilities where agriculture because of rainfall water had a low productivity. Provision of irrigation facilities is crucial not only in low precipitation regions but also in heavy precipitation ones to promote more advanced land usage. According to executive agency farm employment opportunities have increased, particularly in dry-season and food-sufficiency has been reinforced after implementation of the irrigation project.

Vegetable cultivation on the river bank:

People of Kolab, Masiput, Dumuriguda, Khilaput, Parajapondi and Kechela villages have adopted vegetables farming as their livelihood on the river bank. They are doing it across the year except rainy season because the rain water hampers the cultivation. They converted threat into opportunity and venture vegetable farming in winter & summer season. This is a main income source for the rural people. Basically people grow vegetables namely tomato, radish, cauliflower, cabbage, brinjal, chili, green motor, onion, ginger, garlic, potato, green bean and so on. With this income they meet their livelihood needs and also support their children’s education.

Fig.2. Weekly market at Koraput

They bring their vegetables to Koraput weekly market and the local traders also regularly visit their villages to procure vegetables. Farmers state that the key to their success is hard work and positive attitude towards farming. Vegetable farming on the river bank gives two benefits that is prevention of soil erosion and income generation. Apart from this cultivation in river bank is less require of manure and irrigation. Farmer Damodar Burudi said “in a half-acre land we are getting around 3,000 to 4,000 rupees every week from vegetable cultivation after meeting household consumption.”

 Getting livelihood from ferry occupation:

People from Panasput, Paidaput, Kechela, Semela & Girlaguda villages used to go Koraput for medical, marketing and official purposes, for which they’d prefer launch communication. It is only 6 kilometers to reach Koraput through launch and 80 kilometers distance through road which is more expensive and time-consuming.

Fig.3. Launch Owner

Launch owner Balaram stated “in weekly market of Koraput we are getting a more income because most of the people from this area depend on Koraput weekly market.” With this income they are supporting their children’s education and also spending some amount for procurement of other household needs. They have 25 years of experience in travelling through the river. Earlier they owned wood boat; eventually government has supported the purchase of launch with subsidy. The ferry occupation gives an additional income as a part-time job. Generally villagers engage in agriculture and construction work.

 Getting livelihood from fishing occupation:

Fish farming has also been established as a profitable business venture throughout the region. Fish is a good source of food & protein, hence the its demand and price has been increasing. Villagers and tribal people after meeting their household consumption sell fish in the nearby market which generates additional income for them. They are not able to catch high quantity consistently, but approximately get 10 Kilograms in a week and make an average around Rs. 1200. Customers say the fist has a superior taste.

About the Author: Tripati Khura is a development professional and social worker. He has been working for the sustainable development of the tribal people in Odisha. Especially on the issues of women empowerment, forest conservation, child rights, education, health and good governance.

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