JAGATSINGHPUR:: Siali beach, one of the popular tourist attractions in Jagatsinghpur district, has turned into a safe haven for anti-socials. Even as the State Government had decided to develop the beach into a tourism destination by providing basic amenities, the project has been hanging fire due to lack of budgetary allocation. About 20 kms from Balikuda block headquarters, it is considered the most attractive beach in the district.
Last year, the State Government drew up a project plan entailing a budget of over `3 crore for development of Paradip and Siali coasts. The plan, which was subsequently finalised, envisaged construction of pedestrian rests, food kiosks, picnic houses, drinking water facility, toilets, high-mast lights, watch towers, dustbins, parking facility, recreation area, rescue boats, deployment of lifeguards and security for tourists. The plan, though, has failed to move beyond official files.
Currently, there is no accommodation facility for tourists near the Siali beach unlike other beaches in the State. In the absence of security arrangements and police patrolling, the beach has turned into a hide-out for anti-socials.
There have been several instances of miscreants harassing the tourists who visited the beach during evening hours. Though locals have time and again demanded before the Government to open a police outpost in Siali beach, the latter is yet to pay heed. District administration had constructed a tourist bungalow at a cost of `9 lakh near the beach but some miscreants attacked the watchman and ransacked the building a few years back.
In 2011, the Surfing Yogis team comprising Sanjay Samantray of Rangers Adventure Foundation and international surfers-cum-instructors Justin Michael Creghton of Australia and Yogi of Hawaii made an extensive expedition in the sea and found a stretch near the Paradip Port as well as Siali beach suitable for surfing. However, nothing has materialised on the surfing front till date.
Apart from lack of infrastructure and threat from anti-socials, the beach faces natural hazard like unpredictable sea current. Unaware of the phenomenon, tourists venturing into the sea have landed in mishaps. There is hardly any security measure like life guards or life jackets. Although the district authorities have been apprised of the situation, no step has been taken so far.
Jagatsinghpur Tourist Officer Arabinda Jena said the infrastructure and road connectivity to the beach need to be developed. The district administration had prepared a project plan of `3.05 crore for development of Siali beach, but no money has been sanctioned till date.
“Work can begin only after we get funds,” he said, adding that combined efforts of the district administration, police, NGOs and the local fishing community are required to ensure safety of tourists.