BARIPADA: With rain continuing to lash northern Odisha for the last few days, panic has gripped people living in four villages situated on Budhabalanga river bank, which face the risk of being washed away in case the rivers are flooded. As per reports, around 150 families of Baghuapal, Muktapur, Nilakanthapur and Kuapal villages have already been shifted to safer places at Balabhadrapur, Bhanjbati and Paunsia. They alleged that due to lack of embankment on both sides of the river, these villages are flooded every year, while major portions of three revenue villages - Muktapur, Kuapal and Nilakanthapur - in Barasahi Assembly segment of Mayurbhanj district were washed away in 2013 cyclone Phailin.
While thousands of villagers are affected by floods every year, the river swallows large chunks of agricultural land, causing huge losses to farmers. Locals said in spite of construction of river embankments being a major poll promise in both the last general elections and panchayat poll, the State Government has failed to provide funds for the purpose. With more rains predicted, people are apprehensive of a flood-like situation and are spending sleepless nights during monsoon.
Due to lack of embankment, Budhabalanga river and Bada nullah have already started eating into agricultural land on its banks in these villages. Sameer Kumar Patra, a resident of Baghuapal, said, “This apart, people are going to face another problem after completion of Subarnarekha irrigation project which is passing through the village. Time will come, Baghuapal village will be vanished from the revenue map of the block.” Another villager Hadibandhu Jena said, “The river is eroding our farmland, and it looks like the river will wash away our village.
We are demanding that an embankment be constructed on Budhabalanga but nothing has been done so far. The river has washed away around four villages in the last few years.” Last year, the officials of irrigation department had visited these villages and assured to construct embankment with financial assistance from Nabard, but to no avail. Contacted, Executive Engineer of irrigation department Lokanath Mohanty said he will soon visit the affected areas and necessary steps will be taken.