The 480-km coastline of Odisha continues to battle sanitation issues with the mechanised cleaning proposal of the Tourism Department yet to take off.
Although the Department has been toying with the idea of mechanised cleaning of beaches for over last one year, it has not been able to take a final decision in this regard yet. As of now, beaches are manually cleaned in a haphazard manner.
At a time when the department should be exploring beach tourism potential, it has done little to keep them clean. Though Puri beach is a major crowd-puller, its cleanliness has always been a concern. Here, fishermen sometimes use beach stretches as lavatory.
Except for the 500-metre stretch of Model Beach, polythene and garbage are littered all along Puri beach by vendors and tourists. Similar is the plight of beaches at Gopalpur and Talsari which also attract tourists in large number.
At present, the Tourism department provides funds to the beach protection committees and Collectors to take up the beach cleaning work. This, however, does not suffice.
In December 2011, the Tourism Department had floated a tender inviting private organisations to take up mechanised cleaning drive on 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 shortlisted, and it had demonstrated features of a mechanised sweeping vehicle on Puri beach. Although the authorities concerned were impressed with it, nothing materialised between the company and the department. Last year, the department also 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 after knowing the price quoted, the Department had thought of cleaning Puri beach manually and other beaches in a mechanised manner.
“Since the Bhubaneswar-based organisation had quoted ` 99 lakh for a period of one year, we had decided of hiring workers to manually clean the beach at the same price as it would also help in generating employment. But a final decision in this regard is yet to be taken,” he said, adding that the reconstruction of tourism properties that were damaged in the Phailin has delayed the proposal.
In the last financial year, the department had earmarked `2.20 crore for beach cleaning in Puri, Ganjam, Kendrapara and Balasore districts. This included integrated beach cleaning project at Puri at a cost of `1 crore.