Kendrapara, July 25 (LocalWire): The fate of a large number of riverside villagers in Rajkanika block in Kendrapara district at stake as the river Baitarani has been gulping land piece by piece over the decades.
The peasants have helplessly seen the river devouring their land recently with an accelerated pace in this rainy season.
“In the last four or five years, the river has robbed me of nearly two acres of agricultural land.
If corrective steps are not adopted soon, the river may devour the whole village in a decade or so,” said Baidyanath Behera, a farmer of the village Bandhamala.
The marching river has consumed large tracts of lands in the villages of Jayakunda, Bajapur, Bania, Pandorokoli, Jhadamala, Katana, Bramashsani, Jhadamala, Bandhamala, Baradia and Upulei within three decades. This has triggered a large-scale displacement of people.
“Twenty years ago, the river seemed to be far away.
Now it’s just a few yards away and we fear that it will devour our houses.
We have lost our farmland and more than 200 people have already lost their homes.
In 2010, the river devoured the Tarini temple. We all want to leave, but we have nowhere to go,” asked Harish Chandra Samal of Jayakund village.
Over the past 30 years, Jagannath Behera, 70, of Baradia shifted house four times to save himself from the marching river.
Only two months ago, Jagannath was forced to leave his ancestral village again after the river devoured his house.
“The river Baitarani made us landless five years ago, in our village Jayakunda.
After the river devoured our house, I am residing in my daughter’s house in Jayakunda.
The river is now crawling menacingly towards her house.
My son-in-law works as a plumber in Gujarat,” said Sabitri Behera, 70, while standing in front of the riverside thatched house along with her daughter.
“The river Baitarani is all set to consume Katana Gram Panchayat, but it seems the authorities have lost their eyesight towards the river erosion problem in these areas.
Hundreds of farmers living on the banks of the rivers are struggling to protect their land as their villages are shrinking in size.
Ten years ago, the authorities stone-packed some river embankments to protect the villagers from the onslaught of the marching river.
But due to poor construction work, most of the stones were washed away in the river,” said Nirakar Sethi, the Sarpanch of Katana Gram Panchayat.
“River erosion is a serious problem in the riverside villages.
The authorities have already completed stone-packing works to protect some of the riverside villages from the onslaught of the crawling river.
The authorities will soon stone pack and repair all the river embankments,” said Basant Kumar Rout, the Additional District Magistrate (ADM) of Kendrapara.