Puri: Plastic and polythene garbage has become a cause for environmental pollution in Chilika, the largest brackish water lake in Asia.
Though the State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) had banned use of polythene in Chilika way back in 2002, the authorities concerned are yet to take any concrete step to discourage tourists and locals from dumping plastic garbage into the lake, sources claimed.
Environmentalists and social activists have pleaded that the Chilika Development Authority (CDA), the conservator of the lake, take more proactive steps to deal with the plastic menace. They also supported punitive action against people who are violating the polythene ban order in the lagoon.
Chilika lake, spread over 1,165 square km area in three districts—Khurda, Puri and Ganjam — is well-known across the globe for its biodiversity. Altogether 52 rivers flow into the lake and sustain its ecosystem. The lake has been recognised by the Ramsar Convention due to its vast wetlands.
The lagoon is considered as a major congregation point for migratory birds in winter. Nalabana, a small island in Chilika, was declared a bird sanctuary in 1987. Moreover, Chilika has occupied a special place on the tourism map of Odisha due to its Irrawaddy dolphin population.
However, the delicate ecosystem of the lake is facing a threat from plastic and polythene garbage. “The rivers flowing into Chilka usually bring a huge amount of plastic garbage. Moreover, the residents of at least 147 nearby villages and thousands of fishermen operating in the lake also dump plastic bags, bottles and other garbage into the lake,” claimed an environmentalist.
Moreover, lakhs of tourists and picnickers visiting the lake also dispose plastic goods in the lake or on its coasts. “The shopkeepers near the lake are responsible for aggravating the plastic menace in Chilika. Dumping of plastic garbage is rampant at places like Kalijai, Barakula, Balugaon, Sunderpur, Rambha and Mangalajodi. Now, one can find thousands of plastic bottles, snacks packets, polythene bags in Chilika water,” said the environmentalist.
Chilika Ecotourism Association president Sadashiv Jena said they have initiated steps to discourage tourists from dumping plastic garbage in the lake. “Now, we have dustbins in 80 per cent of tourist boats in Chilika. We are creating awareness among visitors against disposing garbage here and there. We would take all possible steps to restrict the entry of plastic made goods into the lake from October 2,” he said.
CDA assistant executive officer Sasmita Lenka said they have launched several rounds of awareness campaign against polythene among the tourists and fishermen. “People should understand the harmful impact of plastic on environment and cooperate with us to make Chilika a polythene-free spot,” Lenka added.
Plastic-free pledge becomes louder
Puri: Lecturers and students of Suraj Mahal Saha College here have come out in support of the campaign launched by Orissa POST and Dharitri for a plastic-free Odisha.
At least 250 students of the college and their teachers Saturday took a pledge for a plastic-free campus. The students raised slogans against plastic and polythene and made a commitment to create massive public awareness on the issue.
Principal Ashwini Kumar Das asked the students to make the plastic-free campaign a social movement. “Plastic and polythene are not only harmful for environment but also a threat to the whole animal kingdom. Use of plastic products is not conducive for human health. Thousands of cattle are dying after swallowing polythene bags dumped by us. Plastic garbage is also choking the drains and causing waterlogging in cities,” he said.
Among others, additional principal Prasanna Kumar Nanda and lecturers Ajit Dalai, Shuvendu Mishra, Harihar Kar, Pramod Acharya and Sukanta Mohanty participated in the campaign against plastic.