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Ocean’s fury over coastal villages of Orissa

"75 families of Tandahar, 40 of Udaykani, 40 of Chhenu, 20 of Kalamakani and 25 of Katakana are forced to live like nomads as floods and tides have been regular visitors to their villages."

N A Shah Ansari : January 1, 2009

Climatic changes in the coastal regions of Orissa have been a matter of concern for the people living in the villages near the coastline. Unusual rain pattern, frequent low pressure, high tidal Waves of Bay of Bengal and soil erosion caused by it have posed serious threat to 6 villages around the Keluni river mouth, 15 km east of Chandrabhaga, of shrinking in the sea. While Sea going off the coast day by day is an issue for many coasts, at Keluni river mouth it is expanding towards the villages causing concern regarding the existence to the villagers of Tandahar, Chhenu, Udayakani, Kalamakani, Katakana and Kaanarapur of Astaranga Block in Puri DIstrict.

All the six villages are placed between the Bay of Bengal in the south-east and river Kadua in the north-west – both meeting at the Keluni mouth. Every rainy season comes as a nightmare to the villagers of these six villages as the flood water of Kadua river fill in the whole area and the tidal waves of the Bay of Bengal reach the villages overcoming the sand limit.

The summer is equally unsympathetic to the villagers as the usual south wind brings with it the sand particles from the shore and gathers it on the agricultural lands, houses and the thin casuarinas fringe.

So nature is always rude to the villagers by taking their habitation into its fury and destroying agriculture – the basic livelihood source. The villagers of Chhenu have been displaced four times since 1956 as the houses and homestead lands along with 200 hectors of agricultural land have been eaten up by the sea. The affected villagers are now pushed to Nadiamath and Balidokan, about two and ten kms away from their old habitation respectively.

Similarly, villagers of Udaykani, mostly SCs and STs, have been forced by nature to relocate as they have lost their houses and lands in the sea many times in a decade due to the super cyclone of 1999 and frequent flood and tidal splashes.

75 families of Tandahar, 40 of Udaykani, 40 of Chhenu, 20 of Kalamakani and 25 of Katakana are forced to live like nomads as floods and tides have been regular visitors to their villages. Youth of the villages are now migrating to distant places and other states as labourers because agriculture, the traditional source of livelihood, is no more a dependable profession. The women and old people have no other way than surviving against nature’s cruelty.

The post super cyclone attempt for creating 150 feet wide dense green belt of casuarinas on the coasts to save the villages from further erosion and sand wrapping has ended up with few plantations and no further care. Most of the casuarinas planted are either dead under the sands or hardy visible by their dried up tips.

All the six villages will no more be in the map leaving thousands of people homeless if strong measures to stop the tides and flood water from gripping the villages are not taken immediately.

Scientists and environmentalists claim the impact of global warming causing unusual changes in the climate and season pattern in the state to be the reason behind more low pressures and rise in sea level across the coasts of Orissa. Growing industrialisation and rapidly changing lifestyle would boost the impact of global warming further in the state.

(Author is a known Social and Media Activist working for proper utilisation of RTI Act by common people, empowerment of youth and people living in Rural Orissa)




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