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Odisha: Sukapaika: Death of a river December 09,2019   |  Source: Down to Earth

Sukapaika is one of the several distributaries of the mighty Mahanadi river in Odisha. It branches away from the Mahanadi at Ayatpur village in Cuttack district and flows for about 40 kilometres (km) before rejoining its parent river at Tarapur in the same district. In the process, it drains a large landmass comprising over 425 villages under 26 gram panchayats in three blocks — Cuttack Sadar, Nischintakoili and Raghunathpur.

Not long back, people of these villages completely depended on the river for their drinking water, bathing, irrigation, fishing and other livelihood options, but not anymore. The reason: Sukapaika is being choked to death gradually due to government apathy.

“Our main crops were potato, tomato, brinjal, cauliflower and cabbage, which we grew along the river. Fishing was also a lucrative livelihood option. Now all economic activities have stopped. Around 60 villages are severely hit because of the barrenness of the river,” says Narayan Tripathy, a marginal farmer of Phulara village in Cuttack Sadar block.

The problem has its roots in 1952, when the state government blocked the starting point of the Sukapaika with an embankment to save the villages around it from floods. Subsequently, in 1957, two major projects — Hirakud Dam in Sambalpur

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