Even as recent rain brought cheers among the farming community, those living in villages along river Mahanadi are spending sleepless nights. Every time it rains in the upstream, they are afraid their villages will be devoured by the river.
These 35 villages located in Binka, Ulunda and Birmaharajpur blocks have a population of 50,000 people. They said every year, flood in Mahanadi results in erosion of river banks and it is getting closer to their habitats. Besides, every time the flood water recedes, it leaves farm land sand cast or washes away fertile top soil.
Some of these villages are Kulpada under Binka NAC, Jharapada under Binka block, Keuntipali, Jagannathpali, Nimna, Dasrajpur, Manamal, Tenda, Badila, Khaliapali, Nuagaon, Hikidi, Bijepur, Mundoghat, Nachnipadar and
Apatanuagarh in Ulunda Block, Khambeswaripali, Buroghat, Nuapali, Nuagarh, Kumursingha, Deuli, Keuntipali, Godhaneswar, Kelgaon, Amsarbhata, Tebhapadar and Kunjamahul under Birmaharajpur block.
Besides these villages, Baidyanath and Chepapali on the outskirts of Sonepur, Bhudar, Brahmani and Karlamuhan in Tarbha block are also threatened by river Tel.
Although the villagers have been demanding construction of a guard wall at strategic locations to prevent soil erosion, administration has been paying no heed.
People of Mundogahat, one of the worst hit panchayats, have even written to the Chief Minister drawing his attention to the problem. They have threatened of mass movement in the area if the State Government fails to meet their demand.
Convenor of Water Initiatives Odisha Ranjan Panda said for such areas, a long stretch of the shore should be studied for analysing vulnerability of the area to shoreline erosion.
Depending on the soil type, a combination of plantation and stone patching should be resorted to. He said any concrete construction should be avoided because concrete embankments tend to force the water to erode a different point of the shoreline. “It is better to adapt to erosion than tapping the river,” he added.