Koraput is situated in the southern part of Orissa, with topography marked by high land plateaus and a number of hills of the Eastern Ghats. Reduction in the period of cycle in shifting cultivation, weakening of the linkages between forest and agriculture production systems and increasing fragmentation of land holdings pose a threat to the subsistence agriculture being practiced by the tribal communities. Inequitable land ownership patterns, unviable land use practices along with a weak appreciation of local governance institutions are some of the key issues prevailing in the region.
The aim of the project is to provide assured source of irrigation to the un-irrigated uplands of poor and marginalised tribal farmers of villages. Due to availability of abundant ground water and presence of many perennial rivers and feeder streams, the scope for creation of irrigation potential in Koraput district is very high, especially with regard to construction of water-harvesting structures and diversions with a local mandate. In the absence of electrification in agricultural fields for operating electric pumps for irrigation, the diversion-based irrigation project through gravity flow would prove a sustainable model for providing irrigation facilities to the uplands of the project villages. Increased irrigation will help in bringing certain lands under double cropping and improving tribal incomes, thereby reducing pressure of hill slopes for podu cultivation. These lands could be brought under permanent vegetation cover in the future.
The project villages selected for the diversion-based project are situated in the upper catchment of Upper Kolab Reservoir, covering habitations in revenue villages coming under six gram panchayats of Semiliguda block as part of the Deomali landscape. The project provides a worthy illustration of activities for conservation of natural resources by leveraging the opportunities in the (MG)NREGS.
The initiative forms part of the watershed development activities initiated by FES along a small tributary of Kolab River in Koraput district adopting a landscape approach. The salient aspects of the efforts include - conservation and judicious use of natural resources, enabling arrangements that provide access by the communities to such resources, and improving livelihood options that are in consonance with the ecosystem functioning.
Sir Jamsetji Tata Trust