Guwahati: Voice of Environment (A Youth Environmental Organization) conducted a cleanliness & plantation drive for an eco-friendly sustainable & plastic-free Umananda Island by generating a mass awareness to build the heritage site a clean & sustainable eco-friendly premise. Umananda temple is one of the highest visiting devotee’s destinations after Maa Kamakhya Temple in Guwahati & it is a challenge to generate awareness minimizing the number of single-use-plastics being traded inside the premise of the temple. This is part of the smaller steps taking a bigger leap for protecting this riverine island comprising abundant biodiversity.
Umananda Island is one of such astonishing ecotourism & cultural destinations in the heart & core of the State Capital of Assam which symbolizes braided stream of the mighty Brahmaputra & the rarest ecological landscape. Voice of Environment, a frontrunner Guwahati based Environmental Organization has been working continuously on ecology, biodiversity & risk assessment of this smallest river island. Voice of Environment has signed a Memorandum of Understanding/MoU with Chief Doloi/Secretary, of Umananda Temple trust committee to create a plastic-free premise, an inclusive effort to beat plastic pollution & protect some wonderful native biodiversity in the fragile ecosystem including the rare species of Golden Langur/Trachypithecus geei. A Plantation Drive with fruit-bearing plants started at Temple premise by the Head Priest and Secretary Umanada Develaya Parichalona Samiti (Temple Authority) Shri Anil Bhattacharya, Nalinakshya Chamuah VoE Member, and Environmentalist Moharana Choudhury.
Afterward a signature campaign and interaction session for biodiversity and Cleanliness aspects with devotees and visitors led by Bhaskar Hazarika and Sabita Dutta(VoE Member). The team also contacted a cleanliness drive at Umananda Island by collecting the plastic waste items lead by Partha Dhar and Bhaskar Hazarika, Debopam Purkayastha and Senior Member as Shri Girish Kotoki.
Kumar Deepak, Environment Officer, United Nations Development Programme in a message states, Umananda Island features one of the smallest river islands having not only a cultural emblem of the State of Assam but it comprises a rich ecosystem & biodiversity including a remarkable infrastructure of ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction. We need to work on protecting island ecology & its biodiversity vulnerable to climate change. Mitigating single-use-plastics is a key challenge to make tourism sustainable & mindful.” Environmental Activist Moharana Choudhury talks of in brief about Voice of Environment’s leading campaign on mitigating plastics from significant temple sites. We are inching forward to become a zero-plastic zone by the end of the year. We have been working in three major iconic heritage sites viz; Maa Kamakhya, Basistha & Umananda in Guwahati to make it clean & plastic-free. These iconic are situated on hills & river-island comprising a fragile ecosystem with distinct species & biodiversity. Every day thousands of devotees visit to all three destinations carrying out tons of single-use-plastic every day which is alarming to their respective ecosystem. We are conducting regular awareness drive to mitigate single-use-plastic. Our efforts are bringing a paradigm shift. Last year Maa Kamakhya Temple bagged ‘Swachh Iconic Temples’ under Swachh Bharat Mission. We are fortunate to be a small part of such a prestigious moment. Voice of Environment shall send a proposal to the Government of Assam for installing metal hoardings & small boards passing out bold messages to avoid single-use-plastics within the premise of Umananda Temple. Chief Doloi pledged us to inform the State Government to install recycle bins at different points on the island. Single-use-plastics must be mitigated & it could happen only with the support of the Government, temple authority, devotees, vendors & local community. We are planting fruit trees to enhance food reserves for animals & birds on this peacock islands so that food scarcity would be avoided in the near future said, Choudhury.
Voice of Environment and the team is thankful to Environment and Forest Department Assam for providing the saplings especially to Dr. C. Muthu Kumarvel, IFS, CCF for his support, guidance and encouragement for this initiative.
The team is working to create the site as an eco-friendly and sustainable tourist destination in the country and in the region.