As Jagatsinghpur rivers dry up, locals worry over govt inaction

Moreover, many rivers like Hansua, Alaka, Dhanua, Gobari, Budha and Balia are almost dead.

Published: 16th January 2021 09:26 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th January 2021 09:26 AM   |  A+A-

The embankment of Mahanadi river damaged in a village in Jagatsinghpur district.

The embankment of Mahanadi river damaged in a village in Jagatsinghpur district. (Photo | EPS)

By Express News Service

JAGATSINGHPUR: Even as major rivers are drying up and human encroachments are blocking their flow in the district, inaction by the State government and district administration to revive them is posing a grave challenge to sustainable development in the region. As per reports, the four main rivers in the district including Mahanadi, Devi, Chitrotopla and Paika are witnessing water flow only for two to three months during the rainy season and are dry for the rest of the year. Depletion of groundwater level, disruption in flow due to construction of bridges and barrages and other human encroachments are believed to be contributing factors. 

Moreover, many rivers like Hansua, Alaka, Dhanua, Gobari, Budha and Balia are almost dead. While this phenomenon has ecological repercussions, it has also led to immediate concerns like poor crop output and shortage of drinking water. Over the years, it has given way to livelihood concerns for those who depend on fishing and farming. 

In 2018, locals led by social activist Ratanakar Nayak had demanded eviction of illegal encroachment of Alaka river from  Birabarapatana in Biridi block to Bay of Bengal under Erasama block. They had demanded harvesting of rainwater, measures to rejuvenate the river and prevent further depletion of groundwater, evicting illegal constructions from both sides of the river and other solutions to the crisis. 

Following the protest, a six-member team of Central Inland Fisheries Research Institute (CIFRI), Kolkata had visited different areas of Biridi block to prepare techno-economic feasibility report (TEFR) and detailed project reports (DPR) to both Central and State governments for revival of the Alaka river. But, the reports are yet to be submitted. 

A year later, the Fisheries Directorate had again sought the CIFRI’s intervention for a DPR to mitigate the water crisis but the research institute is yet to give a response. Meanwhile, in May, the district Fishery office had submitted a proposal to the district rural development agency (DRDA) for utilisation of MGNREGS funds to take suitable measures to restore water bodies for pisciculture. District fishery officer Subrat Kumar Das has said, “The department had adopted a mission mode approach to boost fish farming but all projects are on hold as DPRs for rejuvenation of rivers are awaited.”


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