Rayagada: With both the Jhanjabati and the Nagavali rivers changing courses rapidly, people in this town are living in mortal fear. Jhanjabati incidentally is a distributary of the Nagavali river. Both the rivers are located on two sides of this town. Initially, residents of this town thought the presence of the two rivers was a ‘blessing’. They get their drinking water from the rivers and also water for irrigation of farmlands. Not anymore now. With both rivers changing directions and coming closer to the residential land mass, people feel that if steps are not taken immediately for course correction, they will lose their properties and other belongings.
Locals pointed out that rampant illegal sand and stone mining from the banks are the main reason for the rivers to change their courses. They said that because of illegal mining, erosion is taking place at a rapid pace. They also pointed out that a substantial quantity of land has already been gobbled up by the two rivers. Slum dwellers of this town are very apprehensive as they feel they will suffer the most if soil erosion is not prevented. Their problems increase during the monsoons when both rivers are in spate. Locals have approached the district and the block administration to implement preventive measures against erosion.
However, nothing has been done so far. A delegation of residents met the additional district magistrate Monday here and submitted a memorandum on this issue. The Jhanjabati river merges with the Nagavali near the Majhighariania temple and then meanders towards Andhra Pradesh. It is the Jhanjabati that is giving sleepless nights to people. As it is changing direction, lives of residents in this town, Halua panchayat, and the adjoining areas have come under serious threat. Lives of people living in the villages under Gumma, Halua, and Tadama panchayats have also been seriously affected. Residents pointed out that due to soil erosion, the frequency of landslides in the vicinity of the two rivers is increasing. The localities close to this town that have been affected by landslides are Katlaguda, Sirikana, Siriguda, and Jaramguda. People are now hoping that the government will step in and implement measures to prevent soil erosion by the two rivers.