Bhubaneswar: The soil erosion along the banks of Subarnarekha river in Balasore district has in the past few decades not only changed the landscape of the area it passes through but also rendered many residents of the riparian village homeless.
A visit by this correspondent to the Choumukha village in the district revealed that erosion along the banks has become more prominent and the threat of loss of livelihood of the fishermen, farmers and others is looming large.
In the past few years, many villagers who had homestead land near the Subarnarekha river bank have shifted their base to the other side of the village due to the environmental degradation and ultimately became climate refugees. Many farmers have lost their farmlands and they face the threat to the land they are now cultivating. Besides, the construction of a proposed port in the area will also aggravate their woes as large-scale displacement will happen, said sources.
“Many villagers had their record residential houses on the land which has now been engulfed by the river. Many of the families have shifted their base to other areas as they lost their houses due to soil erosion. Now the river has eaten up many portions situated on the banks,” said Shrawan Kumar Mandal, a villager of Choumukha.
Many of the fishermen living on the banks now fear that more erosion can wreak havoc to the fishing prospects and other activities relating to their livelihood as their land and working space is now vulnerable. “We live along the banks of the river in the village. We dry the fish on the banks for selling and also live in this area which has now become vulnerable to soil erosion. We need some government intervention to safeguard our livelihood,” a fisherman said.
Meanwhile, to tackle the issue of soil erosion the state government has recently undertaken stone-packing project on the banks. The Choumukha village is geographically positioned near the Subarnarekha river mouth which further makes it vulnerable to erosion.
The Subranarekha minor port has also been planned along the periphery of the river which could also drastically change the fate of the village which is already struggling with sea erosion.