Skip to main content

Odisha dolphin tourism victim of climate change, prawn farming, infra projects

By Sudhansu R Das* 

Nature has blessed Odisha with a vibrant natural sector economy. The forestry, handicraft, handloom, fishery, agriculture, animal husbandry, tourism, pilgrim tourism and horticulture sectors etc can create huge employment and revenue in the state on a sustainable basis. The state needs to develop a sound economic vision to harness the benefits from the natural sectors.
Construction of infrastructure projects with investment though generates revenue and ticks the GDP growth; there is no guarantee that it would create inclusive employment opportunities. Today infrastructure projects are like consumer items which are being marketed by middlemen and global traders across the world.
Many countries have been ruined due to their obsession with infrastructure driven growth illusion. Recently, the Sri Lankan economy has collapsed due to this illusion. It has created a heavy loan burden on the country whose interest the country can’t repay in the next 50 years. Many infrastructure projects were abandoned and many do not generate income in Sri Lanka.
Leaders’ ability to understand what is good for people and for the economy always safeguards the economy from possible collapse. The state of Odisha should take precaution while going for the infrastructure based growth model.
Recently, the state government has prepared a plan to develop water tourism on its coastline, beaches, lakes, canals, rivers, dams and reservoirs. Plans are afoot to introduce floating restaurants, cruise boats, adventure sports facilities and build hotels in those places. It is very essential for the state government to examine the sustainability of those projects and its true potential to create inclusive employment opportunities for the local people.
As per the state’s new water tourism development plan, a water sports facility will be developed in the recently renovated Taladanda canal of Cuttack. The main drain of the city carries dirty water, industrial waste and plastic to the Taladanda canal. 
 Before introducing water sports facilities in the Taladanda canal, the government should close all the open drains in Cuttack city, complete the underground sewerage system, improve garbage disposal system, install garbage processing plants far away from the residential areas, and impose fine on people who use open drains as toilets. Thousands of people in the city urinate in open drains; the urine mixed with water goes to the Taladanda canal.
First the authority should keep the city green and clean; the growth of slums on government land makes the garbage disposal difficult. The residents of Cuttack city will enjoy boat rides in Taladanda canal if the authority could make the ancient city green and healthy with the plantation of native trees; open space, community playgrounds and pedestrian paths will contribute to the growth of the tourism sector.
There is plans to develop hotels, roads and restaurants around the famous Chilika lake. Floating restaurants, cruise boats and water sports facilities will be introduced in the lake. The 1,165 sq kilometer salt water lake provides livelihood to villagers living in 132 villages in and around the lake. Small islands, hills, playful dolphins and the Nalabana Bird Sanctuary with migratory birds in winter attract thousands of tourists.
Small rare cashew nuts, fish, tiger prawns, crabs, banana, drumstick trees, mango, jack fruits, paddy and a wide range of vegetables grow in those villages. The natural sector economy here can increase the income of villagers through awareness, skill development training and through transparent marketing facilities. Instead of building concrete structures, the state should protect the ethnic culture, landscape, ancient temples and encourage local people to build classic indigenous houses with biodegradable material.
Not a single dolphin was visible after moving in the lake for four hours. Local villagers said it is due to rise in atmospheric temperature
There is no need to construct hotels, restaurants and new concrete structures in and around the lake as those structures would disturb the fragile ecosystem and distort the natural beauty of the lake. Tourists can happily stay in Puri, Khurda and Berhampur and visit Chilika in a single day. This will benefit the local people who operate boats, run restaurants and travel agencies. 
This writer visited Chilika’s Satapada area to see dolphins in the first week of October 2022. Not a single dolphin was visible after moving in the lake for more than four hours. Local villagers said it is due to the rise in atmospheric temperature, the dolphins are not coming out. They said the dolphins’ movement is restricted due to illegal prawn farming. Thousands of bamboo stumps are planted for prawn farming; the stumps pop out of the water making the boat ride unsafe here. Not a single rescue boat was seen within four hours.
People say if there is any accident one has to call the helpline number and the rescue team will arrive. Nearly 1,500 boats operate in the Satapada region of Chilika and many boats are overloaded with tourists without safety tubes. Visitors remove the life jackets after entering the boats; nobody checks them. The authorities have to ensure the safety of the tourists.
For dolphin tour, the state government should stop prawn farming in Chilika lake, plant native trees along its coast to reduce atmospheric temperature, prevent poaching and hunting of birds, tightens patrolling, create environmental awareness among villagers and provide skill training to villagers who can run the economic activities in the natural sector. Ten years back hundreds of dolphins were seen in the entire Satapada area which connects the lake with the Bay of Bengal.
Natural beauty, myths, mysteries, interesting history, ancient temples, folklores and heritage have made the 460 kilometer coastline an interesting place to visit. The coast line no longer needs any concrete structure and it should be kept as natural as possible; tourists come to see the natural beauty only as they have seen enough of the concrete structures everywhere. 
Hotels and restaurants can be built with biodegradable material in nearby towns and district headquarters away from the coast line. Odisha Water Tourism Policy needs to be redrafted by genuine experts who know the people, region and the economy from the grass root level.
*Freelance writer



'Draconian' Kerala health law follows WHO diktat: Govt readies to take harsh measures

By Dr Maya Valecha*  The Governor of Kerala has signed the Kerala Public Health Bill, which essentially reverses the people’s campaign in healthcare services in Kerala for decentralisation. The campaign had led to relinquishing of state powers in 1996, resulting in improvement of health parameters in Kerala. Instead, now, enforcement of law through the exercise of power, fines, etc., and the implementation of protocol during the pandemic, are considered of prime importance.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Bihar rural women entrepreneurs witness 50% surge in awareness about renewal energy

By Mignonne Dsouza*  An endline survey conducted under the Bolega Bihar initiative revealed a significant increase in awareness of renewable energy among women, rising from 25% to 76% in Nalanda and Gaya. Renu Kumari, a 34-year-old entrepreneur from Nalanda, Bihar, operates a village eatery that serves as the primary source of income for her family, including her husband and five children. However, a significant portion of her profits was being directed toward covering monthly electricity expenses that usually reach Rs 2,000. 

Work with Rajasthan's camel herders: German scientist wins World Cookbook Award 2023

By Rosamma Thomas*  Gourmand World Cookbook Awards are the only awards for international food culture. This year, German scientist  Ilse Kohler Rollefson , founder of Camel Charisma, the first of India’s camel dairies, in Pali district of Rajasthan, won the award for her work with camel herders in Rajasthan, and for preparing for the UN International Year of Camelids, 2024. 

Reject WHO's 'draconian' amendments on pandemic: Citizens to Union Health Minister

By Our Representative  Several concerned Indian citizens have written to the Union Health Minister to reject amendments to the International Health Regulations (IHR) of the World Health Organization (WHO) adopted during the 75th World Health Assembly (WHA75) in May 2022, apprehending this will make the signatories surrender their autonomy to the “unelected, unaccountable and the whimsical WHO in case of any future ‘pandemics’.”

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Golwalkar's views on tricolour, martyrs, minorities, caste as per RSS archives

By Shamsul Islam*  First time in the history of independent India, the in-charge minister of the Cultural Ministry in the current Modi government, Prahlad Singh Patel, has glorified MS Golwalkar, second supremo of the RSS and the most prominent ideologue of the RSS till date, on his birth anniversary, February 19. In a tweet he wrote : “Remembering a great thinker, scholar, and remarkable leader #MSGolwalkar on his birth anniversary. His thoughts will remain a source of inspiration & continue to guide generations.”

Why is electricity tariff going up in India? Who is the beneficiary? A random reflection

By Thomas Franco*  Union Ministry of Power has used its power under Section 11 of the Electricity Act, 2003 to force States to import coal which has led to an increase in the cost of electricity production and every consumer is paying a higher tariff. In India, almost everybody from farmers to MSMEs are consumers of electricity.

Deplorable, influential sections 'still believe' burning coal is essential indefinitely

By Shankar Sharma*  Some of the recent developments in the power sector, as some  recent news items show, should be of massive relevance/ interest to our policy makers in India. Assuming that our authorities are officially mandated/ committed to maintain a holistic approach to the overall welfare of all sections of our society, including the flora, fauna and general environment, these developments/ experiences from different parts of the globe should be clear pointers to the sustainable energy pathways for our people.

Environmental cost of Green Revolution: India world’s second-highest fertilizer importer

By Glenn Davis Stone*  Feeding a growing world population has been a serious concern for decades, but today there are new causes for alarm. Floods, heat waves and other weather extremes are making agriculture increasingly precarious, especially in the Global South .