Sukapaika River

About Sukapaika river:

  • Sukapaika river 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 kilometers (km) before rejoining its parent river at Tarapur in the same district.
  • Sukapaika river’s course covers three blocks including Cuttack Sadar, Nischintakoili and Raghunathpur, over 26-gram panchayats and 425 villages.
  • The river was the lifeline for the people, as they depend on the river for their drinking water, bathing, irrigation, fishing, and other livelihood options but now due to barrenness, all stopped.
  • People of many villages along the Sukapaika started a campaign demanding its reconnection with the Mahanadi to allow water flow into its course.

Reasons cited for death Sukapaika River:

  • The problem has its roots in 1952 when the state government blocked the starting point of the Sukapaika river with an embankment to save the villages around it from floods.
  • In 1957, two major projects, Hirakud Dam in Sambalpur district and Naraj barrage at Cuttack — were built upstream on the Mahanadi to control floods in it.
  • Due to the non-removal of the embankment on the Sukapiaka river, it left distributary totally dependent on rainwater. 
  • The riverbed has suffered erosion and it is full of hyacinth from Ayatpur to Tarapur and trees along the river have also disappeared.
  • Sukapaika river is an important system of the Mahanadi to control floodwater and maintain the flow in the river as well as the Bay of Bengal.

Way ahead:

  • Such natural systems should not be chocked at any cost because such obstructions are basically the death knell for a river system affecting the livelihoods of riparian communities and other ecosystem functions.
  • The government should immediately restore the flow by reconnecting the Mahahadi with the distributary.