Bhubaneswar, July 8 (LocalWire): Thousands of villagers of Odisha’s coasts are gradually being pushed back by an inundating sea because of climate change and related challenges.
This was observed by the Water Initiatives, Odisha, a forum of civil society organisations and experts who work for the conservation of water and environment and advocacy on climate change issues, during a study-cum-exposure trip to Udayakani and Tandahara villages in Puri district and Satabhaya and Bagapatia villages in Kendrapada district.
Considering the fact that about one third of the state’s coastline is already vulnerable to sea ingress due to climate change, Ranjan Panda, convenor of WIO, who is also popularly known as Water Man of Odisha, apprised the Chief Minister of the situation through a letter on Monday and urged the government to initiate necessary steps to address the issues of thousands of climate refugees of the state.
He wrote that the people of Udayakani village under Sisuo Panchayat, Astaranga block of Puri district have been suffering because of the rapidly-invading sea.
The invading sea has forced the villagers to relocate from the village thrice since 1999 Super Cyclone when the entire village was submerged forcing people to move to their farmlands. During Phailin in 2014, they had to shift inlands again after the village got sandcast.
While they had been under tremendous stress after losing their homestead and farm lands, the recent cyclone Fani worsened their condition further by making their remaining land and water sources more saline.
Same is the situation of neighbouring Tandahara village that is close to Udayakani.
Panda, in his letter, also apprised the CM of the current state of affairs of Bagapatia rehabilitation colony in Kendrapada district where the government has relocated the climate refugees of Satabhaya – the seven villages which have already been engulfed by the sea during the last few decades.
While the amount of support given for house building is too little considering the low-lying swampy area they have been allotted, they are provided with no livelihood opportunity.
Panda requested the CM to discuss with the villagers of Udayakani and Tandahara and work out a proper rehabilitation package by ensuring them proper habitation, cropland and other compensations including right to access nearby forests for minor forest produces.
By the time a rehabilitation package is finalised, the people need to be provided with all basic amenities and livelihood support as most of their farmlands are already submerged and the remaining fields have become saline due to Fani making it difficult for them to grow any crop for at least couple of years.
He also asked the CM to improve the rehabilitation package for Bagapatia inhabitants by speeding up the provision of basic amenities such as water supply, toilets, good roads and providing them croplands and grazing lands.
Panda further mentioned that Odisha needs to prepare a policy to deal with the climate-induced displacements as many more villages in the vulnerable coastline are facing a similar fate. He further suggested creation of a green corridor along the coastline with mangroves and other local and cyclone resilient species to prevent further ingress of the sea.