Jaleswar: The Subarnarekha river is said to be the lifeline of north Balasore, but its usual water level has been down due to continuous lifting of sand from its riverbed. The riverbed is sinking every year with rampant mining of sand by the Bengal mafia, a report said.
The deepening of the riverbed has resulted in massive erosion of its banks at many places and change of its course.
The falling water level of the river has caused problems for irrigation of farmlands. River water is out of reach for farmers in the riparian pockets, locals alleged.
It has also impacted the groundwater level in the area. The groundwater has gone down by 100 ft this summer. Many tube wells have been defunct due to shortage of water in the river basin areas, it was alleged.
“Earlier, we used to get enough water from the river to irrigate our farmland during summer. People used its water for various purposes like drinking and bathing. Now, river water has been scarce. Water crisis has affected many areas,” locals lamented.
Mahommedpatana sarpanch Damayanti Mohanty, social activist Radhashyam Sahu, Uttam Das, Arun Senapati, Haripada Manna, Khakan Jena, Kuna Tudu and Suryakant Sahu have expressed concern over rampant sand mining in the river and its disastrous consequences over the river water.
They had submitted a memorandum to their MLA seeking to save the river.
Subarnarekha originated from Ranchi plateau of Jharkhand and flows through West Bengal and Balasore before falling into the Bay of Bengal at Talsari. A 79-km stretch of its riverbed passes though Jaleswar, Basta, Bhograi and Baliapal blocks.
Thousands of farmers living in the riparian village along its banks in West Bengal and Odisha have been growing tonnes of vegetables by using its water. Thousands of fishermen also depend on the river.
As sand of Subarnarekha has a high demand for construction work, mafia of both the states has been plundering its sand over years. Hundreds of dumpers are deployed to supply sand from the river on a daily basis, thus causing a huge revenue loss for the state government.
Reports said, there are 22 illegal sand mines in the river under Jaleswar block. Sand is mined in large quantities almost every day but no action is being taken against the mafia, locals alleged.