UKHASODA (JHARSUGUDA ): Boats fishing in deep water or ferrying people to the other side of the Mahanadi, children playing on the banks of the river and villagers bathing in it. That is the flourishing Mahanadi, the villagers of Sukhasoda under Lakahnpur block of Jharsuguda district recollect.
The scene today presents the sad truth of two warring States - Odisha and Chhattisgarh - over the river water. Sukhasoda under Remta gram panchayat is the first village in Odisha, located 12 kms downstream of Kalam barrage constructed by Chhattisgarh.
The river once flowed by it and the entire population of the village depended on it for livelihood and other purposes. Now, a dry river bed and sand on the banks are what remains of the water body.
With uncertainty hanging over flow of water, the boats are left without anchor as their owners are least worried about those being washed away.The dry river has not only robbed smiles from the face of fisher folk but also hit the farmers who have stopped cultivating rabi crop.
It won’t be an exaggeration to say that the fate of Jharsuguda district depends on the Mahanadi. From industries to fisher folk for whom every day is a new day, the river has been the lifeline. Before the Kalma barrage came up, the farmers whose land were close to the river were cultivating crop during rabi season. But, things changed on its head ever since the barrage was constructed.
Ananda Pradhan of the village said even during construction of the barrage, water flowed in the river and they managed with it. But this year, the flow of water has completely stopped. Even if Chhattisgarh claims to be releasing water, it gets absorbed by the hot and dry bed of the river in the summer. This has forced them to quit cultivating rabi crop, said another villager, Ayodhya Pradhan.
They said fishing in the river, a legacy left behind by their forefathers, has completely stopped and they are engaged in odd jobs to sustain their families. Many families have also shifted to Chhattisgarh to earn a living rather than starving in their village close to river Mahanadi.