Odisha villagers block Chilka waterways with boats to protest encroachment

Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Brahmagiri, Mar 26:

Hundreds of men and women of Mainsa village under Krushnaprasad block in Odisha’s Puri district continued with their unique protest of blocking the waterways sitting on boats lined up in a chain formation deep inside the Chilka lake for the second day today as the administration failed to meet their demands and break the deadlock.

chilika protest

Placard holding villagers owing allegiance to Mainsa Gramatali Buhana Chilika Surakshya Samiti sat on boats tethered to spikes thrust deep inside the placid blue waters of the lagoon and formed a chain of boats and blocked the waterways completely disrupting ferry and vessel services between Satapada  to Janhikuda jetty in the process.

The people of this village located inside the lake are demanding that the catchment area of their village be made encroachment free. The Samiti has threatened to continue with its blockade of waterways if the demand is not met.

The villagers had held a protest meeting at the Mainsa jetty yesterday to highlight their demands.

“Villagers of Jageswari and Alupatna villages have encroached on the catchment area of our village. The RDC has ordered the removal of the encroachment, but the district administration is yet to carry out the order,” said Pradip Kumar Jali, convenor of the Samiti.

“Chilika is our bread and butter. It’s our livelihood. Our children and family members are sleeping on empty stomach without food. What will we do? We had requested the authorities in the government but no one listened to us,” said Radhamani Kiran, a female agitator.

While the Krushnaprasad tehsildar and IIC have held discussions with the agitating villagers and are camping at the agitation site with three platoons of policemen on boats to maintain peace, they have failed to convince the agitators to withdraw their blockade of the waterways.

“Alupatna people have encroached upon the catchment area of Mainsa village. Mainsa villagers want them to be evicted. The collector has ordered their eviction. But with this waterway blockade on, we have failed to take any steps,” said Ramakant Sethy, tehsildar Krushnaprasad.

People of six panchayats of Krushnaprasad block are unable to visit the panchayat and block offices because of the blockade. Tourists too have faced difficulties because of no ferry or vessel service.

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