Work on to save embankment in Kendrapara

Kendrapara: Work on war-footing is on to save a vulnerable coastal embankment, where cracks have appeared, protecting a cluster of thickly-populated human settlement from tidal waves in coastal Kendrapara district.

Cracks appeared in the 700 m-long embankment on August 29-30 when mighty tidal waves had smashed the Pentha coast in Rajnagar Tehsil.

"The administration is aware of the grave situation. Gram panchayats like Dera, Brahmanasahi, Kurunti, Rajnagar and Gupti are under threat. That`s why, work is on round-the-clock to strengthen the old embankment," Kendrapara Collector Pradipta Kishore Pattnaik said today.

"Temporary measures like installing timber stumps and sand packing are on in full swing. Such measures could check the waves for a certain period of time but it is not a permanent solution," Jugal Kishore Tripathy, executive engineer in saline embankment division said.

The vulnerable portion forms part of 15-km-long coastal embankment that had come up in 1971 after a devastating cyclone. As a foolproof measure to stop the sea from making inroads into villages, another 300 metre retard embankment has been put up.

Pentha along with Endulasahi, Prasanapur, Sundaripala and Khandamara under Brahmanasahi gram panchayat had escaped the wrath of 1971 cyclone but the safety of these villages are now at stake as the intensity of sea erosion has become alarming.

"The situation is grave. Engineering personnel and technical experts have been pressed into service to save the embankment and avert impending disaster," said Pattnaik.

Pattnaik and Tripathy said if the embankment caves in, the sea would sweep into the thickly-populated human settlements and Rajnagar block headquarters and submerge it.

During heavy rains, the sea wreaks havoc in the villages on its shores. Six villages near Pentha were eaten up by sea in the 1971 cyclone waves and 1,200 people were washed away from six villages.