Sinapali: Amongst the villages under Sinapali block in Nuapada district that have been under the threat of being gobbled up by the river Udanti, Gadaramal tops the list.
The river has already swallowed up about 100 metres of the village at Harijanpada. Out of 35 families, 20 have been shifted to safer places as their houses have submerged in water.
The rest of the villagers are presently spending sleepless nights, fearing that the marauding water may inundate their houses at any moment. They expressed their concern for the Anganwadi centre and the school for their vulnerable locations. “We are very much in fear. At any moment, the river may render us homeless. We are concerned mostly for the Anganwadi centre and the school. If steps are not taken beforehand, the students will be the worst sufferers,” they said.
This apart, these riparian villagers are earning their livelihood from cultivation. They grow kharif and rabi crops. And this has also been seriously affected as the river has been marching towards the farmlands for the last 30 years, leaving the farmers distressed.
Sources said, about 30 acres of farmlands of Chalana village have already gone into the water. What has added to the woes of the villagers is the administration taking no precautionary steps. “We have been requesting the administration for guard wall on both sides of the river, but to no avail,” said the villagers.
If a stone-wall is erected along the river from Karadunguri village to Hatibandha village under Sinapali block, it would make a huge difference for the riparian villages.
Sources said that Kapasi village has now been protected from the marching river by constructing a spur. At the same time, the course of the river has been controlled at Makhapadar and Jugenapadar by constricting the stone-packed embankment.
But there are so many places along the river that are devoid of any embankment, posing threat to the nearby villages.
When asked, tehsildar Kapildev Sahu said he can do nothing but shifting people and arrange food for them in case there is a flood. Taking steps to protect the villages is beyond his capacity. In fact it is the job of the irrigation department.
When contacted, assistant executive engineer, irrigation department, Ramesh Pattanayak said that an action plan for erecting a guard wall along the river has been sent to the government. Once sanctioned, work on the guard wall would be started.
Notably, every rainy season, the river causes massive damage to some riparian villages including Karadunguri, Dumerbahali, Gadaramal, Chatiaguda, Sagunbhadi, Salekela, Baragaon, Kapia, Yogibahal, Makhapadar, Liada, Chalana, Kaapasi, Jugenapadar, Palasapada, Sinapali, Khalana, Ghuchaguda, Phurashundha, Kiantepadar, Khairapadar and Saradhapur. While acres of farmlands in these villages have been sand-cast, Chalana, Kiantepadar and Ghuchaguda have lost acres of farmlands to the river.