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A village caught between climate change and sea

Paindi, a homemaker, recalls, "When my family shifted here, the sea was around 1 km away from the village. Now, it lies a few metres away. Since erosion started in 2007, the sea has gobbled up over 100 homes." 'How will we all fit in?' Keeping in mind the impact of this surge in sea levels, the state government has since 2015 shifted most inhabitants of the village to a colony around 5 km away.

Odisha village Ch Paindi outside her home at Podampeta "Two of my sons got a house each in the ODRP colony. They live there with their families. I go to their homes at times. But staying here in Podampeta makes it easier for me to venture into the sea early in the morning," said Nacheya. Back in Podampeta's makeshift fish landing centre, which is close to the sea, 39-year-old B Mohana said he was not ready to abandon the house built by his father.

Repairing his net on Ramayapatna's coastline on a sunny morning, 70-year-old L Nawaye says, "My three sons got three houses in the nearest ODRP colony and shifted there. Fisherfolk always look for houses close to the sea. If we shift to that colony, who will look after our boats and nets?" In Ramayapatna too, the state government has sanctioned a plan of Rs 23 crore to develop a geosynthetic sea wall of around 1,200 metres to protect the village from sea erosion.

According to a study on 'Shoreline Change Along Odisha Coast', published in the Journal of Earth System Science in 2021, coastal structures such as sea walls, breakwaters and jetties result in modification of the shoreline and beach morphology. J Sukanti, who left Podampeta village nearly six months ago, said she kept waiting for the authorities to take steps to protect the village from sea erosion but in vain.

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