Thursday, September 22, 2011

Exploring Odisha - Day Three : Paradeep port and beach, Mahanadi Estuary

Entrance - Paradeep
Paradeep, is one of the important ports in the eastern shores of India. With a good numbers of investment proposals in pipeline, expectations are very high regarding to the further growth of port and associated infrastructure.

We started early in the morning and got a TATA Sumo to Paradeep, it moved so slow that the road side views were moving in a slow motion. Huge numbers of Lorries were waiting in the roadsides to enter to the port and so as the millions of dollars worth ores in it. Slowly we reached the port area; separated by a huge compound wall from the rest of the city it holds all the characteristics of a sensitive area. We got the idea of how much sensitive it is when a CISF constable came and warned as against the use of Camera near or inside the port. Indeed the CCTVs are working!!!

As private vehicles are not allowed for sightseeing inside the port (walking on foot too was not allowed for non-employees) we booked tickets in port authority’s sightseeing buses as it is the only option. These buses will come and pick up you in designated intervals. Finally our vehicle came and we moved in, as the content of coal were high in the atmosphere, driver asked us to pull down the glass shutters.

As we moved on, he explained about different areas of the port in Oriya. Its an interesting place - interesting not because of its natural beauty - but its represents the industrial development of our nation. Our ships are again sailing to other ports across the world. Unfortunately we are end up providing basic raw materials like iron ore to foreign countries and buying the manufactured goods made out of it from them. If I put it in another way, we are selling goods which lies lower in the value chain and end up buying goods from the higher levels of value chain. (Huge out flow of money from our valuable foreign reserves).

Even after having an entire ocean in our name - no other country has an Ocean named after her - and thousands of kms of shores, we are struggling for container transshipment. How long we can depend on foreign ports like - Salala, Colombo, Singapore etc for our transshipment? Newly opened ICTT terminal in Cochin port is an important step in this direction, but not enough for 1.2bn+ people(+ Landlocked countries like Nepal and Bhutan).

Huge amount of coal were accumulated in one side of the port, and the other side was decorated by various merchant ships in the sea channels. In some ships cranes are working with out any tiredness - the mammoth steel structures picked up huge amount of weight as simple as elephant taking water from river through his trunks. Soil become blackish because of the presence of Coal, and the people who were working there didn’t wear any masks to save themselves from inhaling the polluted air!!!
Mahanadi meets Bay of Bengal

Suddenly the journey was over, it was very short. If I can represent the port in the form of an elephant, I saw the food feeding it, his legs and a part of the head rest was still there. One part of it may represent the long conveyer belts carrying various products passing at a height of about 200m over my head, or the huge water body called Bay of Bengal. I don't know, but whatever I saw, combined with the prospects of a future POSCO steel plant, I can say that we are still in business.

From Paradeep port we went to Paradeep beach in an Auto. Marked with the sight of ships in a distance, this place was good one to spent some time in solitude. Next destination was Mahanadi estuary. Estuary is place where a (or more) river (or streams) meets with the open sea. As we became more and more close to estuary, buildings on both sides of the road gave way to trees. The presence of big stones on the sides, muddy water of great Mahanadhi and the waves moving in various directions coupled with the huge water body gave a distinct look to the place - yes Nirvana or salvation!!!
Mahanadi Estuary

This is how the rivers ends her journey. Started from the distant mountains, moving fast through the valleys and giving water to lakhs of people along her way Mahanadi finally reached her salvation. We sped a lot of time there, as I moved to the thin sand stretch waters to Mahanadi slowly touched my body before finally moving to become part of a bigger universe called Bay of Bengal.


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