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Odisha youngster wages lone battle to clear Devi estuary of garbage

Rahul Maharana has on his own collected 935 kilograms of litter from Devi estuary and mangroves (Pics. Courtesy Twitter/@SoumyaMarineWL)

Every individual effort to safeguard the environment counts. And a good example of that is Rahul Maharana of Ambadiha village, Khurda in Odisha who on every Sunday, sets out alone in the morning to Devi estuary located near Astaranga in district Puri with a gunny bag for collecting all the garbage, waste and litter he can find on the beach and mangrove.

Deeply affected by the degradation and deteriorating condition of the mangrove in Devi due to pollution, this 22-year-old young man, who works as a security guard in Bhubaneswar, has made this effort every Sunday since last one month. He started this initiative on January 8 and has so far collected 935 kilograms.

Elaborating on what triggered this effort, Maharana said that he had visited Astaranga with his friends and to his dismay was aghast with the litter there. Further, he found the mangrove had waste covered in several layers of thick mud. “I decided to come here at least once every week and clean the place,” he said.

After collecting the waste, he keeps it in a gunny bag at a secure place and when it will become one tonne, he is planning to take it to a waste processing unit at Konark.

He felt that residents close to the estuary need to become aware of avoiding littering the area as it can cause problems to the mangrove ecosystem which is vital for protecting the place and people from cyclones and tides.

This is not the first time Maharana is playing the role of an eco-warrior as earlier he had collected 500 bags of plastic from Pir Jahania beach, Rushikulya mass nesting site and other places. He said he will continue his effort and plans to conduct awareness camps in villages to impress upon people the hazards of pollution and importance and protection of mangroves.

Odisha’s mangrove cover is spread in Kendrapara, Balasore, Bhadrak, Jagatsinghpur and Puri districts and covers 259 square kilometres.