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Sharmili Mallick

River bank erosion has emerged to be one of the most dreadful environmental problems. The rapid erosion of riverbanks has left the villagers of Keonjhar and Mayurbhanj districts scared.

Salandi River has been devouring large tracts of land and pucca and kutcha houses at Kanpur village under Hatadihi block in Anandapur Sub-Division of Keonjhar district. The continuous erosion has triggered displacement fear among the 300 families of the village.

Many houses have already been washed away by Salandi River due to absence of a river embankment. Though a wall was constructed to prevent riverbank erosion, villagers alleged that it was of little help.

“The river water is gradually eroding the banks and we are afraid to live in our houses even during day time,” said a villager Sasmita Behera.

Another villager Balram Rout said, “The River is gradually devouring patches of land from the north side and inching closer to the houses near the riverbank. Though there is a protection wall but it has failed to prevent the erosion. If stone-packed ring embankment is not constructed along the Salandi River, we are afraid Kanpur village will soon submerge in the river,” Rout feared.

The villagers of Ambadiha under Udala block of Mayurbhanj district are also living with the same fear.

The nearby Deo River which flows alongside the village has engulfed large tracts of agricultural land. The situation gets aggravated during the monsoon. The villagers alleged that they had suffered huge loss as the floodwater from the river damaged their crops and houses during the last rain. 

A villager of Ambadiha, Dilip Barsalia said, “I had cultivated paddy, cabbage, lady’s finger and other vegetables this year and expected a bumper harvest. But my hopes dashed to the ground as they were washed away by the river water during the monsoon rain. Many houses were also damaged in the flood water. Despite repeated complaints, the local administration is yet to come up with permanent measures to prevent river erosion. A river embankment is the only solution to check erosion in the region,” added Barsalia.

Meanwhile, the local MLA has assured that the matter will be discussed and steps will be taken soon to address the problem.

“A stone-pack embankment was constructed at Digha in 2009 and I had raised a question in the State Assembly regarding the construction of embankment along Deo River to which Water Resources Minister Raghunandan Das had replied that a detailed project report (DPR) would be prepared and a tender would be floated in this regard soon,” informed Udala MLA Bhaskar Madei.

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