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Window Seat: Stop Cruise Services. Protect Environment

13/06/2020 at 6:18 PM

One of the few good things that the extended lockdown to contain the spread of Corona virus did- was to provide a respite to the environment-already stressed beyond capacity. The air of many cities notorious for  pollution is cleaner now. So is the water of Ganga and Yamuna. This happened not because of any intervention- but simply letting them alone. We must understand the fragility of eco-system; and at several places – let nature have its way.

The Odisha government’s decision to start day cruise services at five selected water bodies at Chilika Lake, Mahanadi, Bhitarkanika, Satkosia Gorge and Hirakud reservoir will be disastrous from the point of view of environment.

While a day cruise on a big vessel sounds fun and relaxing, one should consider its impact on the ecosystem of these water bodies. Chilika, Satkosia and Bhitarkanika are fragile and protected sites which are already facing dozens of unintentional and unexpected hazards.

While Chilika has a dwindling Dolphin population, Bhitarkanika has the salt water crocodiles and the delicate mangroves. Satkosia Gorge comes within the Project Tiger area and the crocodiles and gharials are on a diminishing count.

As environment activist Anil Dhir says, the many hazards of starting mechanized boats include air, water, oil, chemical and noise pollution. Cruise vessels use a huge amount of ballast water for stability; the water is often filled from shore and discharged midstream.

Since the ballast water contains microbes and micro-organisms in addition to vegetation and other sea-fauna, pollution aspect is mainly caused to the local species and marine life. Grey water that comes from regular activity onboard, like sinks, toilets and galleys contains nitrogen and phosphorus which lead to eutrophication and stimulates the dense growth of plants and the death of marine creatures because of lack of oxygen.

The marine diesel engines will emit various greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, carbon monoxide and sulphur dioxide. Even the noise produced by the cruise boats will disturb the marine ecosystem.

In addition to the noise pollutions from the vessels machinery, a lot more noise is made due to the entertainment activities on board. These noises disturb the marine animals and mammals, including the dolphins, whose sensitive hearing gets harmed and debilitated, often leading to their unwanted death and an overall loss to the eco-system.

Cruise boats are large, intrusive and dangerous vessels which have negative impacts on marine wildlife. Dolphins, turtles, otters and other big fish cannot avoid speedy watercrafts, and collisions with hulls or scrapes by propellers often do fatal harm. Many of the Dolphin carcasses found in Satapada had been killed by boat propellers.

Odisha Govt. can have cruises in the Hirakud reservoir and the Mahanadi, but should not do that at the three protected sites.

Promotion of tourism should not be done at the cost of environment. Bhopal’s Upper Lake was chosen by the Madhya Pradesh State Tourism Development Corporation for cruise boat trips. The Bhopal Municipal Corporation stopped the move and accused the tourism corporation of polluting the lake by the over 10 motor boats and the 100 paddleboats of the Bhopal boat club.

PanchamiManooUkil, noted ornithologist and writer is of the opinion that Eco Tourism by its very nature must address the delicate interconnectedness in the natural ecosystems. Any attempt to disrupt these habitats by encouraging intrusions through man or machine would lead to complete destruction of these vulnerable zones and threaten the existence of species that are dependent on the eco system.

Corona Devi, Coronamma

India has had a long tradition of worshipping goddess to ward off infectious disease. The latest addition to the pantheon of goddesses (they all are goddesses) is Corona Devi. From BiswanathChariali to Darrang district and even in Guwahati, many people, mostly women, are now performing ‘Corona Devi Puja’ in Assam. Corona Devi puja has started in Bihar and Odisha too.

In North Karnataka, several villages are worshipping ‘Coronamma’. They are turning to an ancient ruse to ward off the disease from their vicinity. Like Plegamma and Maramma (goddesses of Plague and Chicken Pox), who were thrown out of village limits by their fathers and forefathers, the villagers are are trying to ward off Coronaamma.

In Bengal and Odisha, people used to worship Shitala Mata to ward off Small Pox. The dreaded small pox has long eradicated, but Shitala Mata survived and is still being worshipped.

Call it superstition or part of our religious practice, which may have originated from some medicinal good practices- as Dr. RavindraVaidya, an Ayurveda practitioner opine- it continues.

Photo courtesy: India Today

Clean

I got this from a social media forward and liked it immensely. Read this for the unique thought. 

We don’t live in bungalows, duplexes or flats. We live in our minds.  

Yes, that’s our permanent residence. And there are no constraints of square-feet there. It’s a vast space with unlimited area. And you know what! No matter how well-organized your rooms, balconies, garages and verandas are, life is good only when things are sorted there – in your mind.

And that’s where we keep things messy – regrets piling up in one corner, expectations stuffed in a closet, secrets under the carpet, worries littered everywhere, comparisons spilt on the table, complexes leaking from an old bottle, and grudges stinking in a box. 

Be aware. For this ‘real home’ of yours, you can’t outsource housekeeping. You got to do it yourself and see the beauty that surrounds you when your inner being is stable.

Tailpiece: Question-Answer

This is the first time question and answers both are same 

Q: Who declared Corona as a pandemic?

A: WHO declared Corona as a pandemic.

***

Journalist turned media academician MrinalChatterjee lives in Dhenkanal, Odisha. He also writes fiction and translates poetry. An anthology of his translated poems will be published in mid –June 2020.

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