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Pradeep Pattanayak

With the sea violently marching towards the coastal villages in Ganajm district, it is only a matter of time before these villages submerge in water. 

While the whole world on Sunday celebrated the World Environment Day, the residents of coastal villages like Podampeta and Aryapalli are at the receiving end of the bad impacts of climate change, even though their contribution to it is next to nothing. 

Once upon a time, as many as 200 fishing families used to live at Podampeta village. The picture is quite different now with over 10 houses being devoured by the marching sea and a few left to be devoured. 

While the State government has already rehabilitated some families, some are still living in the village, leaving everything at the mercy of the god. 

The fate of Aryapalli village under Chhatrapur block is no different either. Once, the sea was one kilometre away from the village. Now, it is just 20 metres away, leaving the villagers in fear and apprehension. The panic-stricken villagers have been demanding for a permanent concrete dyke to save their village from being submerged. 

“We are living in constant fear as we are losing our houses to the marching sea,” said C H Sukanti, a Podampeta villager. 
Echoing the same, an Aryapalli resident Ramkrushna Barik said, “It is up to the government to do something for our safety. A permanent concrete dyke is the need of the hour.”

One should visit Satabhaya village in Kendrapara district to see the fear in the eyes of the few people left in the village. 

The sea has wiped out seven villages from the map of Kendarapara district. Barring few families, all have left the village, to start a new life. 

Given the situation of Satabhaya village, the villagers of Pentha, 20 kilometres away from Rajnagar block, are these days spending sleepless nights. The sea which was two kilometres away from the village is now at the door step of the village. 

Even though Odisha’s first Geo-tube sea wall project was implemented here, people can’t rely on it. 

“Earlier, there used to be a river and a jungle that acted as barrier between our village and sea. Since the jungle has been destroyed and there is no sign of it now. Had there been the jungle, the situation would have been a different one,” a Pentha village Sarat Das said. 

“The sea is continuously marching towards the coast and erosion is proportionately increasing. In the coming days, it would be more,” observed environmentalist Jaya Krushna Panigrahi. 

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