Digha is a popular seaside resort town of West Bengal which has an annual tourist footfall of over 26 lacs. However, due to excessive anthropogenic interventions in recent times, Digha was facing a multitude of problems like unauthorized encumbrances, seepage of sewage, littering of waste on the open shore, unregulated and unplanned hawking zones and all of that have serious repercussions on the coastal ecosystem. ICZM Project has intervened to address these issues so that this popular tourist destination could sustain itself by stabilizing the vital parameters connected to ecological footprints.
During the inception phase of ICZMP, an integrated Beachfront Development Plan was developed in a consultative process through various stakeholders in Digha-Sankarpur area. Digha-Sankarpur Development Authority (DSDA), which is functioning under the aegis of Department of Urban Development, Government of West Bengal has been mandated as the PEA for execution of the works related to Beachfront Development in Digha.
The pilot interventions aimed towards beach cleaning, beach beautification and providing basic civic amenities to the inhabitants of Digha and inbound tourists along with rehabilitation of hawkers that sprawled across the shoreline and congest the pathways leading towards the shore.
Works related to Phase – I of Beachfront Development in Digha have been completed. The assets created under Phase – I include watch towers, beach amenities, open-air theatre, vendor kiosks for hawkers, beach lighting, paving of the promenade, seating arrangements, garbage bins and allied landscaping works.
Hawkers’ rehabilitation was a challenging assignment as it was directly correlated with livelihood security of the coastal community. Consultation in phases was done with the stakeholders including hawkers about every nitty-gritty involving the location of vendor kiosks taking into consideration the business opportunities, design, and material used.
Permanent and temporary vendor kiosks were constructed in line with the decisions arrived in the consultation phases. The entire process of removal of unauthorized shanties that encroached upon the beach along with handing over the newly constructed kiosks was implemented in a seamless and consensual manner. The rehabilitated vendors do opine that the new set up not only provides enhanced security with improved visual aesthetics but would also showcase and sell their products more effectively to potential customers.
Beach Beautification which includes paving of pathways adjacent to the shore, installation of decorative lights, well–lit landscaped zones with seating arrangements coupled with better sanitation facilities in place of the dingy encumbrances provides the tourists better visual aesthetics and acoustics in sync with the rhymes of the waves that hugs the shore.
Open Air Theatre has provided the much-needed platform to the community level cultural ecosystem to showcase their artistic flavor in varied folk music and dance forms.
The Beachfront Development work has improved the environment of the sea- coast. Pollution and littering have reduced considerably in the area.