Marauding sea and unpredictable Nature has wiped the last trace of civilization in clusters of coastal hamlets in Odisha’s Kendrapara district as the scourge of sea erosion has apparently dealt the final strike in these parts of the State.
The centuries-old Panchuvarahi temple in sea-erosion-affected Satabhaya gram panchayat caved in today as mighty sea waves battered the structure. The Hindu temple, the deity of which was earlier relocated along with the erosion-hit people to the safety of the Bagapatia rehabilitation colony, was incidentally perceived as the last visible sign of human existence. With the temple structure virtually razed to the ground, the cycle of sea erosion has hit perhaps the last target in the ‘cursed’ zone.
As the sea ate up one village after the other, the State government had relocated as many as 571 vulnerable families in 2018 to a rehabilitation colony at Bagapatia, located about 10 kilometres from the sea coast.
Sixteen revenue villages spread over 3440 acres of land in Satabhaya panchayat were reduced to a couple of human habitations-Satabhaya and Kanhupur as furious sea battered these areas almost on a daily basis. As the sea marched towards the two ‘surviving’ villages, the government had moved to save the endangered residents after a decade-long dilly-dallying over the rehabilitation project. The project in Kendrapara district is incidentally the State’s first-ever rehabilitation and resettlement project for people displaced by sea erosion.
“The state government has faced innumerable anti-displacement movements in various districts. The one by the villagers of Satabhaya and Kanhupur was on the contrary for displacement. People here wanted to be displaced and rehabilitated as the sea made a steady advance towards their villages”, said an official of Rajnagar tehsil of the district.
“The distance between the sea and the temple was around three kilometers about three decades back. Now the sea has reached its final destination in raving the century-old temple. For all practical purposes, the Satabhaya cluster of villages has now lost its geographical entity”, said Shivendra Narayan Bhanjadeo the scion of the royal family of Rajkanika and the trustee of the temple.