A structure built to commemorate Mahatma Gandhi's one-night stay at a village in Odisha in the early 30s is facing a threat from the advancing Govari river.
The residents of Barimula village had built a memorial to mark Gandhiji's overnight stay at a house on January 30, 1934 after he held a padayatra and a public meeting there.
The residents of the village had for a long time been pleading with the administration to check the erosion, but nothing was done till the local chapter of the human rights commission took up the matter with the state Irrigation Department.
The collector of Kendrapara, Pradipta Kishore Pattnaik, said, “The rights panel has sought a compliance report with regard to the safety of the structure and the administration has asked the Water Resources Department to draw up a plan to stop the erosion."
Bhabani Shankar Ojha, a Zilla Parishad member, said that not just the memorial, but the village itself was being threatened by the Govari.
Reminiscing the events then, Purussottam Nayak, a veteran freedom fighter, said, "A sea of humanity had gathered to watch Gandhi. There was no road then, but all roads had led to Barimula. Meera Ben, Gopabandhu Choudhury, Rajkrushna Bose, Rama Devi, Uma Bajaj, Binod Kanungo and others had also come along with him."
Jitendra Kumar Pattnaik, executive engineer, Kendrapara irrigation division, said that his department had conducted a technical study of the erosion trend and that a project to check erosion would shortly get underway.