Beach cleaning drive of the Tourism department is yet to take off in a full-fledged manner. Although the department has been toying with the idea of mechanised cleaning of beaches for the last one year, it has not been able to take a final decision in this regard yet.
The tourism industry of Odisha has been battling sanitation and hygiene issues on its 480-km coastline for several years now. This, despite the fact that around 20 per cent of the total coastline of the country lies in Odisha and has a high potential for development of beach tourism. Though Puri beach is a major crowd-puller, its cleanliness has always been a concern.
Except for the 500-metre stretch of Model Beach, polythene and garbage are littered all throughout Puri beach by vendors and tourists. Similar is the plight of beaches at Gopalpur and Talsari which also attract tourists in large numbers. Fishermen sometimes use beach stretches as lavatory, which is quite a ‘put-off’ for tourists.
At present, the Tourism department provides funds to the beach protection committees and district collectors to take up the beach cleaning work. This, however, does not suffice.
In December last year, the Tourism department had floated a tender inviting private organisations to take up mechanised cleaning drive at beaches at a cost of `50 lakh each for a period of one year. Beach stretches , Sterling Resort to Penthakata at Puri, Nolia Sahi to Kushabadhra at Konark and Pantha Nivas to Back Waters at Gopalpur were earmarked to be taken up in the first phase.
Subsequently, a Mumbai-based company was short-listed, and it had demonstrated features of a mechanised sweeping vehicle at Puri beach. Although the authorities concerned were impressed with it, nothing materialised between the company and the department.
Earlier this week, the department held a meeting with a Bhubaneswar-based private organisation, Jagruti Welfare Foundation, which also expressed interest in cleaning Puri beach by using machines and installing dustbins. It quoted `99 lakh for one year.
Tourism Minister Maheswar Mohanty said the department is now considering to clean Puri beach manually. “Since the Bhubaneswar-based organisation has quoted Rs 99 lakh for a period of one year, we are thinking of hiring workers to manually clean the beach at the same price as it would also help in generating employment. But we have not taken any final decision yet,” he said.
The Minister said this year, the department has earmarked Rs 2.20 crore for beach cleaning at Puri, Ganjam, Kendrapara and Balasore districts. “This includes integrated beach cleaning project at Puri at the cost of Rs 1 crore,” Mohanty said.
Official reports say the department has sanctioned Rs 53.56 lakh for Kendrapara for cleaning up Pentha and Barunei beaches, Rs 36.52 lakh in Ganjam and Rs 28.39 lakh in Balasore for undertaking cleaning of Chandipur, Kasaphala, Chhaumukha Dagar, Talasari and Udayapur, in this financial year.