Plight of the displaced villagers of the sea-ravaged Satabhaya in Kendrapara district: Watch

Once upon a time there was a cluster of seven villages in the present day Satabhaya area in Rajanagar block of Kendrapara district in Odisha. However, due to change in the local environment and specifically sea incursion, now this number has come down to only two. While Satabhaya and Kanpur villages still exist, the five other villages namely, Gobindapur, Mohanpur, Chintamanipur, Badagahiramatha, and Kharikula have been engulfed by sea water. The former residents of Satabhaya village have been rehabilitated in Bagapatia area. They have been provided with certain facilities, but there is much more to be provided.

Satabhaya was the village of seven brothers. The descendants of the Kanika King had established this village in the shoreline of the Bay of Bengal. However, as of now the village has lost its identity. Due to change in climate, the villages of Satabhaya went into the grip of the sea one after another.

Following the change in climate, the locals of the sea-ravaged Satabhaya panchayat conveyed their plight to the central and state governments. They ran post to pillar for years to press their demand for rehabilitation.

After a brief struggle, the State government initiated steps towards their rehabilitation in the year 2012. Finally, they were rehabilitated yet they lost their profession.

In the ancient time when this land was known as Kalinga, the erstwhile kings had focussed on a few water forts. Satabhaya was the most important among those. As of now, five of these villages have been engulfed by the sea while the locals have lost their birth places. They are now facing livelihood challenges. Many of the families have turned landless.

In the entrance of this village was the temple of the prime deity Goddess Panchu Barahi. In 2018 the State government rehabilitated 571 families of Satabhaya in Gupti and Bagapatia. However, the villagers insisted that till the temple would not be established in the new place, they would not leave, even if they would die. And they intimated their decision to the administration.

After much effort the administration accepted their demand and established the temple of Goddess Panchu Barahi in the rehabilitation colony in Bagapatia. Then, the new address of the villagers of Satabhaya became Bagapatia.

In the meanwhile a long time has passed. Although the Satabhaya villagers managed to save their lives, their farmlands got submerged under water. Also, a large tract of the land lost fertility due to soil salinisation.

In the absence of steady sources of income, they migrated to other states in search of work and turned migrant labourers. They started to move to other states including Kerala and Tamil Nadu as well as places such as Bangalore and Pune to earn their livelihood. During the rehabilitation process they had been assured many other things. However, many of the promises are yet to be fulfilled.

Once upon a time Satabhya was a prosperous place. However, during rehabilitation each of the villagers got just 10 decimals of land at the rehabilitation colony in Bagapatia to construct house. Besides, Biju pucca ghar, electricity, drinking water, road facilities, school and Anganwadi centre were provided. However, even after a brief spell of rainfall, the Bagapatia rehabilitation colony gets submerged with water. Also, the villagers are yet to be issued their Record of Rights (ROR). And hence they fear that the administration may ask them to vacate the land at any time as they are not yet the legal owners of their lands. They have conveyed their plight. It is time now to see when their demands are getting fulfilled.

Also read: Dola Jatra of Maa Nakateshwari in Malkangiri of Odisha: Watch

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