SAMBALPUR: The battle over river Mahanadi by Chhattisgarh and Odisha has now reached the commonman who is feeling the pangs of water scarcity as flow in the river has started thinning down due to the construction of barrages by the neighbouring State.
Besides Mahanadi, its tributaries, which once flowed close to the villages, seem far off with only a stream flowing in the middle of the sandy river bed. One such case is river Bheden, which flows out of Bonai sub-division into Sambalpur after travelling through Kuchinda, Laida and enters Jharsuguda district where it merges with river Ib, a tributary at Khait under Malda gram panchayat before falling into Hirakud Dam Reservoir.
Perennial Bheden was considered one of major tributaries of river Ib and had never gone dry, recall old timers. But today, the river has gone dry and the green cover along its banks turned bald while rampant sand mining has made it shallow. Besides, use of explosives for stone quarrying, exploitation of water by industries and brick kilns along the river and discharge of effluent from industries have hammered the final nail in the coffin of the river. Not only water flow in the river has stopped, the country boats which were once spotted ferrying people or fishing are nowhere to be seen.
The villagers maintained that there were wide deep points in the river bed which held water upto 40 feet deep. Locally known as ‘Darha’, these waterholes helped the villagers meet their needs round the year.
The villagers claimed that in the last one decade, more than 10 ‘Darhas’ have vanished. The few Darhas that have survived are Ghughar Darha, Khami Darha, Laida Darha, Samlai Darha and Bagdi Darha. But the water storage in those places has reduced drastically.