KENDRAPARA: As many as 65 families of sea-erosion hit Satabhaya panchayat under Rajnagar block are staring at an uncertain future as the State Government is yet to take steps for their rehabilitation and resettlement. Two years back, 571 families of Satabhaya were rehabilitated at Bagapatia, located around 12 km from the sea. However, many households are still living in the village in constant fear of the marching sea.
Fifty-year-old Binakar Rout, a villager, said his father and two brothers have already got houses in the rehabilitation colony at Bagapatia. “I have running from pillar to post to get a piece of land in the colony since more than two years but in vain. While the sea is inching closer every day, nothing much is left of our village,” he said dejectedly.
The 17 km stretch of the coast near Satabhaya is said to be the fastest-eroding beach in Odisha. More than 1,000 houses and vast tracts of agricultural land have been wiped out by the rising sea in the last 40 years.
Satabhaya was once a cluster of seven villages.
Now, a small part of Satabhaya remains as six villages - Gobindapur, Mohanpur, Kanhupur, Chintamanipur, Badagahiramatha and Kharikula have already disappeared into the sea. “The life of residents of Satabhaya is melancholic and the constant sound of roaring sea adds to the gloom,” said Binakar.
Another villager Bishnu Charan Behera said they are forced to live in the dark due to non-availability of power supply. Kerosene lamps are their only source of light in the night. Besides, there is an acute shortage of drinking water.
“The sea devoured the only two tube-wells in Satabhaya. We have to trek around three km to nearby Barahapur to collect water,” said Bijayalaxmi Behera (34), whose husband works in a plywood factory in Kerala. While seawater enters the village during high tide, the sanitation remains to be a big issue due to lack of toilet facilities, she added.
Kendrapara Collector Samarth Verma said some families are still staying in Satabhaya for fishing and farming purposes. “We will rehabilitate these families soon,” he added.