Balugaon: Commemorating the birth anniversary of its founder and first chairman Biju Patnaik, the Chilika Development Authority (CDA) on Monday took up a campaign to make Kalijai Island free from plastic and garbage.
Taking the help of NSS volunteers of Balugaon College, members of three boat owners’ associations, temple priests and other stakeholders, the CDA has embarked upon a journey to create a trash-free experience for visitors and reduce plastic waste flow to the lake ecosystem, official sources said.
Spread over an area of 45 acre, the island houses goddess Kalijai, immortalized by late poet Godavarisha Mishra. The temple was built in 1717 by Jagannath Mansingh, the then king of Banpur.
Thousands of devotees visit the temple every month. During winter the number jumps manifold. The biggest gathering takes place on Makara Sankranti day.
This pilgrimage tourism brings in destructive consequences in the form of huge plastic and non-degradable solid waste strewn all over the island and pollutes the waters of Chilika lagoon. Micro plastic is a cause of concern across the world due to such indiscriminate dumping in the marine ecosystem. To keep the lagoon safe from further degradation and to enhance visitors’ experience, the campaign has been initiated to clean the island and change the behavior of the boatmen and tourists, an official release said.
Tonnes of garbage was collected and safely disposed off during the campaign, which will continue till significant improvement is made and the system is able to tackle solid waste management on a sustainable basis, it added.
The NSS units of the adjoining colleges and the boat owners’ associations have been requested to adopt the island and take up cleanliness every month.
Officials said tourists will be prohibited from carrying plastic to this sacred place. The CDA will monitor activities to make the island a plastic-free zone. It has also proposed to shift all shops adjoining the temple and create public amenities for visitors.
Expressing its deep sense of gratitude to members of media, CDA has also decided to issue an advisory through the media to all tourists and boatmen visiting Kalijai Island not to carry non-degradable plastic materials. Violation of the advisory is likely to invite penalty, sources added.