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Every day should be celebrated as Earth Day. This was the message that was sent out by the Assam based environment group Voice of Environment (VoE). The important communication was done on the occasion of World Earth Day 2019. The celebrations were held in collaboration with the department of Environmental Science, Royal Global University (RGU) in Guwahati. The occasion also witnessed the organisation of a campaign: Protect Umananda Island on the Brahmaputra and its Ecology on 28 April 2019.

This was in keeping with this year’s Earth Day Theme: Protect Species and Biodiversity. Small steps towards a bigger leap are important. They kept the theme “Save Umananda, the smallest island of the Brahmaputra.” The initiative has been ably led by Kanhaiya Poddar and Dr Ritusmita Goswami, along with the other members of environment group Voice of Environment.

The Voice of Environment team gathered at Uzanbazar Ferry Ghat on the Brahmaputra at 10 AM and started their campaign by interacting with the visitors and devotees. Visitors gather from all across the country. Plastic pollution is a big menace in the Brahmaputra. The significance of biodiversity conservation of the world famous Umananda island in the mighty Brahmaputra River, which is also a heritage site of Assam state in India, cannot be emphasised enough.

The team reached the island on the Brahmaputra and started the cleanliness drive, which was led by Partha Sarathi Dhar, Bhaskar Hazarika and the other members of the team: especially collecting plastic waste around the island and disposed it to the place marked by the authority. The team afterward started a plantation drive and planted fruit plants, while keeping in mind the food habits of the Golden Langoor, which is found in the area. This part was led by Environmentalists Moharana Choudhury, Muskaan Poddar, etc.

“The event got support from volunteering activities from the citizens for extending their helping hands and wholehearted participation. Let’s work together and win the challenge,” said Choudhury.

The Brahmaputra island is famous for endemic species such as the Golden Langur which needs to be protected and conserved. This biodiversity hot spot as well as an iconic landmark is also under threat mostly due to anthropogenic activities. Ignorant visitors and tourists carry plastic bags/bottles, leaving them scattered around the site. This is a potential threat to the island ecosystem and the Brahmaputra and its biodiversity. Plastic waste drains into the river Brahmaputra and thus creating vulnerability and risk for river Dolphins particularly and also other species.

Keeping this in mind an initiative was planned for Umananda for generating awareness about creating a plastic free premises as well as the ecosystem sustainability for exploring and conserving the ecology and with better ecosystem services. Along with the other activities on that day, an appeal was made to the District Administration of Kamrup Metro and Inland Water Services, Government of Assam to ensure legislation and follow up for this ecotourism destination.

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