Pradeep Pattanayak

The villagers of Shathia Tigiri, Merakashanpur and Darajpur villages under Similia Panchayat of Jajpur block, located on one side of Kharasrota river’s distributary Jamuna rivulet, have been living with constant fear of crocodile attack as the big reptiles are at prowl in the rivulet round the clock. 

Yet, they can be seen bathing in it, crossing it to reach the other side. 

The villagers said if they are putting their lives at risk, it is because they have no other options. 

“On many occasions, we have seen crocodiles swimming in the water. We know we are putting our lives on the line by bathing in it. But what should we do? Since our village doesn’t have a tube well, we all depend on the rivulet,” said Annapurna Jena, a villager. 

“We are more concerned about the safety of our children. We never allow them alone to go to the rivulet,” Annapurna added. 

Besides drinking-water problem, most houses don’t have toilets, which is another reason why the villagers go to the rivulet. Most farmers have their agricultural lands on the other side of it. So they along with their cattle cross the river on a daily basis. Some use a rickety country boat to go to the other side. 

“Since our agricultural lands are on the other side of the river, we along with our cattle have to go there endangering our lives,” said Arakhita Jena, a local resident. 

To end their sufferings, the administration has not done anything except for the forest department putting up a banner, warning people against going to the rivulet. 

When contacted, ADM of Jajpur, Akshay Mallik said the block development officer (BDO) has been directed to fix the drinking water and toilet issues in the riparian villages. Soon a tube well will be installed in the village.”

“The Forest department has also been directed to relocate the aquatic reptiles to somewhere else,” Mallik added.

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