BALASORE : Frequent ingress of tidal waves in coastal villages of Balasore and Bhadrak has affected the economy of farmers.
As many as 55 coastal villages in both the districts are facing the threat of rising sea. During monsoon, agricultural lands in most of the seaside villages in Sadar, Remuna, Basta, Baliapal and Bhogarai blocks in Balasore and Basudevpur and Chandabali blocks in Bhadrak get inundated in saline water.
A farmer, Bijay Parida, of Sartha area cultivated paddy and vegetables in his two acres of land till a few years back. Now, he is unable to grow anything as sea water frequently enters his crop land, making the soil saline. “High saline content in the soil has destroyed fertility of the soil as a result of which, we are unable to grow anything now. We had cultivated some coconut trees and earlier, the water in the fruits used to be sweet. Now, its bitter,” he said. Farmers like Parida said the once fertile land of the region has now turned into saline swamp where there can be no vegetation. Environmentalists blame the tidal ingress to climate change which is now a global phenomenon. Environmentalist PK Padhi said climate change is leading to saline water intrusion into the mainland. Another reason behind this is shrimp farming, which is being taken up on a large-scale by fishermen at present. These fishermen break the saline embankments for the seawater to flow into the shrimp farms. “Though seawater helps the shrimp farmers, it destroys all other vegetation. With every tide, there is salt deposition on the land thereby affecting paddy and vegetable cultivation. Due to increased salinity in the soil, the yield has come down to as low as 30 per cent in the last one decade,” Padhi said.
While the locals have demanded to increase the height of the saline embankments and construct protection walls at vulnerable points, Irrigation Department officials said talks are on with the State Government to decide on a permanent measure to protect the coastal areas from ingression of tidal waves.