Kendrapara: The marauding sea which has been eroding the coastline in Kendrapara district for decades has devoured one village after another. The sea recently razed to ground the centuries-old Panchuvarahi temple. In the process, the sea dashed hopes of locals who would often offer prayers at the Panchuvarahi temple seeking respite from the scourge of Mother Nature.
The Odisha government had in 2018 relocated 571 vulnerable families to a rehabilitation colony at Bagapatia. It is located about 10 kilometres from the sea coast, officials said Wednesday. It was the first such rehabilitation and resettlement initiative in Odisha for people displaced by sea erosion, they said.
Away from their hometown, much of which has been eaten up by the sea, some of its former residents, however, visited Satabhaya village from time to time to pay obeisance at the Panchuvarahi temple. The deity of the temple is however safe as it has also been relocated to the rehabilitation colony.
Locals would perceive the shrine as the ‘last visible sign of human existence’ in Satabhaya village, said Basant Sahani, one of its former residents. “With that gone, our last hopes that the sea may stop its advance have also been dashed,” Sahani rued.
An official of Rajnagar tehsil in the district said people in Satabhaya and Kanhupur villages are keen to shift to a safer place, unlike some neighbouring hamlets, where locals were skeptical about moving to a new area. The government, after consultations with locals, set up the rehabilitation colony in Bagapatia, he stated.
Shivendra Narayan Bhanjadeo, the scion of an erstwhile royal family of Rajkanika and the trustee of the temple, said Satabhaya has lost its identity with the caving-in of the temple.
“The distance between the sea and the temple was around three kilometers three decades ago. Now the sea has successfully eaten up the centuries-old temple. For all practical purposes, Satabhaya has now lost its geographical identity,” Bhanjadeo informed.