Cuttack: The leasing out of Barabodia sand ghat on Mahanadi under Salipur tehsil has invited sharp reactions from the locals who claimed that the biggest river of the state will change its course due to quarrying activities at the ghat.
Residents of at least six villages have alleged that the district administration has recently leased out Barabodia sand ghat to some mafia, ignoring the interests of locals.
The villagers had earlier opposed sand quarrying at the ghat. Subsequently, the then collector Nirmal Chandra Mishra had asked the Revenue and Water Resources departments to conduct a joint survey on the ghat and submit a report.
The Water Resources department, in its report, had claimed that sand lifting at Barabodia ghat may lead to a change of course by Mahanadi. Taking the issue seriously, Mishra had cancelled auctioning of the sand ghat.
However, Salipur tehsil authorities have recently leased out the ghat, ignoring the Water Resources department report. The move has created widespread resentment among the villagers of Barabodia, Atoda, Satabatia, Patapur, Jalahari and Tentola.
The villagers claimed that water current in Mahanadi is too strong at Barabodia as Chitrottopala, a distributary of the great river, originates in the locality. So, sand lifting from the ghat will force the river to eat away its bank and nearby agricultural lands.
“Lifting of sand from the ghat will bring a man-made catastrophe for several villages of Salipur tehsil. Mahanadi will change its course and get united with the Birupa River by breaching the embankments of two canals in the locality,” said Barabodia sarpanch Sophia Routray. Echoing the same view, Lipak Jena, a villager, said, “The administration has bowed before some sand mafia by ignoring people’s interest.”
When contacted, Salipur tehsildar Mahendra Mohanty said they have allowed sand quarrying at Barabodia ghat under certain conditions. “Sand lifting will be banned if we find any unusual behaviour of Mahanadi,” he added.
Collector Sushant Mohapatra said he is not aware of issues related to the Barabodia sand ghat. “We will look into the issue and put restrictions on sand lifting from the ghat, if there is any threat to the villages from Mahanadi,” he added.