Mahakalpara: Hunger pangs can drive human beings to take great risks and even put their lives in danger. The women belonging to the ‘Sabar’ community in Ramnagar and Petchhela panchayats of Mahakalpara block in Kendrapara district are prime examples of such risk-taking. They catch fish in neck deep water in the crocodile-infested Ramchandi Galia river. They do so, as they have to eke out a living. Sometimes these women do fall prey to the crocs.
According to local residents, the population of saltwater crocodile, locally known as ‘Baula’, is increasing in the rivers, rivulets and ‘joris’ flowing in Kendrapara district. They usually prey on fish and crabs, but are not afraid to attack people. Cases of people attacked by the reptiles when they get into the river are increasing by the day.
In a recent incident, a saltwater crocodile had attacked a woman of Chhatar village who was catching fish in a rivulet. The woman is now undergoing treatment at a private hospital in Bhubaneswar. However, that has not prevented the women of ‘Sabar’ community from catching fish while putting their lives at risk. They are fearful of croc attacks, but hunger pangs force them to take dangerous risks. Locals said that a number of women including Hanua Bhakta and Gostha Bhakta of Sabarpada have died due to crocodile attacks.
Local residents said that the Forest department should create awareness about the danger lurking in the rivers and ask people not to enter the river.
The women are also aware of the dangers lurking below the water. But they have hungry mouths to feed at home. The rainy season increases population of fishes and the women can earn a lot. So they take the risk.
“We are very poor. We run our families from whatever we earn from selling our catches. We are in a peculiar situation. If we do not catch fish, we will die hungry. If we go into the rivers, there is the fear of crocodile attack. However, we are forced to take risks as there is no other option for us,” lamented Parbati Nayak, Parbati Bhakta, Sita Bhakta, Putuli Nayak, Gudu Ahadi, Rubun Bhakta and Chhaili Nayak unison.
They asserted said that there is no one to listen to their plight. “We don’t have our own land. We live in thatched houses in jungles. We are always open to Nature’s fury particularly during the cyclones. However, we have nowhere to go and no one is interested in ending our miseries,” they added.