KENDRAPARA: Residents of around 24 riverside villages under Rajkanika block of Kendrapara district are spending sleepless nights as Kharasrota and Baitarani rivers are crawling menacingly towards their homes and agriculture fields.
The villagers rue administrative apathy towards their plight. “We have urged the district administration several times to stone-pack the riverside areas to protect the villages from the onslaught of Kharasrota river but in vain,” complained Manas Bhyuan of Padmapur village. Bhagabat Tarei of Pandarokoli village has lost two acres of land to the river in the last two decades.
Bhagabat is not alone. Kharasrota river has already devoured lands and houses of several villages of Gangadharprasaddia, Mahadeiadia, Pandorakoli, Singidi, Padamapur, Patarapur and Jayakunda by displacing around 200 families.
“Ten years back, the river consumed my three-room thatched house after which I built another house around 500 metres from the river. Now, the river poses a serious threat to my thatched house”, said Abhiram Behera of Jayakunda village. Baitarani river has also gobbled up large areas of land and houses in the last three decades in Abdulpur, Mahurigaon, Gualigaon, Bangaragkua, Upulei, Bajarapur, and Jhadamala.
“River erosion is not new in the riverside villagers. What worries us most is not erosion, but the rise in its frequency and intensity in the recent years. With increasing population, more people are shifting towards agricultural lands near the river banks,” said Pramod Jena, a teacher from Jayakunda village.
Haripada Majhi of Bajarapur village said four years back, the Government had stone-packed the river embankment in his village but due to low quality of work, many stones were washed away during the rainy season last year.
Contacted, Purnachandra Rath, the executive engineer of Embankment Division of Aul, said, “We have already stone-packed river embankments in many villages with funds received from NABARD. Recently, we have sent another proposal to NABARD for stone-packing other river embankments. Work will be started after funds are received for the purpose.”