Jagatsinghpur, September 24 (LocalWire): Locals in Balikuda in the district on Monday took out a motorcycle rally demanding that the British-era Marichpur Bandar (port) be converted as a tourist spot.
The rally was joined by locals from different panchayats, including intellectuals, elected representatives, youths and social activists who also demanded re-development of the port and its surrounding areas.
According to sources, one of the villages in the block that derives its name Bandar from the port at Marichpur has a very attractive beach and is an ideal location for sight-seeing.
Locals also point out that Marichpur Bandar has been surrounded by mangrove forest that provides it with a formidable natural barrier against cyclones.
However, its shoreline is gradually dwindling due to lack of adequate protection.
The forest area in Bandar is also home to deer and other animal and attracts thousands of migratory birds from Siberia during December to February every year.
The region is also a treasure trove of flora but the rise of prawn ghery and other cultivation by encroachers has led to the loss of several traditional plants like Sundari, Bani, Karanjia, Kerua, Mendhi, Rai and Pitambari.
Marichpur Bandar also holds a special link with the colonial past since it was through this port that the first British merchants entered Odisha.
Ravaged by time, and due to the indifference of the successive state and union governments, the port with rich colonial history has been ruined and choked.
The locals, including the fishing community, have urged for its renovation and its development for their livelihood and tourists.
WR Wilson in his book ‘How the English Came to Orissa’ also records the movements of the British merchants during the early 17th century.
“In 1633, eight groups of merchants led by Kart Wright and Bruton started their journey from Machilipatanam of Andhra Pradesh and had reached Harishpur port in Erasama and another Marichpur port of Balikuda with a vessel named ‘Snan’ on 21 April, 1937 to set up a factory and a cotton mill in this area to streamline commercial activities,” Wilson wrote.
Locals point out that though the British-era port has lost its glory, Marichpur Bandar has not yet lost its lure because fishermen have been using the port, which is the only one in the district that has a fishing jetty.
In 2013, the district administration had sought the intervention of state government and the Department of Tourism for development of this British-era port and also sent proposal for its repair, development of pathway, jetty, boating facilities, drinking water, electricity facilities, boundary wall, and plantation, but no steps were taken for restoration of Marichpur Bandar.
The rallyist who had joined under the banner of Talmal Bikash Manch congregated at Balikuda and handed over a memorandum to Water Resource, and Information and Public Relation minister Raghunandan Das demanding immediate steps by the government to redevelop Bandar as a tourist spot.