SUBJECT :Work is going on apace to develop ecotourism facilities at 30 places in 22 districts of Odisha. 

Migratory birds fly over the Chilika Lake. Telegraph picture

By: Ashutosh Mishra

Bhubaneswar, August 18, 2018: Work is going on apace to develop ecotourism facilities at 30 places in 22 districts of Odisha.

Tourism minister Ashok Chandra Panda has described the project as important for the overall development of tourism in the state.

Sources said the work, being carried out jointly by the tourism and forest departments, was at an advanced stage at most of the sites, including Mangaljodi on the banks of the Chilika lake - which is in news because of the controversy triggered by the Centre's proposal to set up a water aerodrome in the water body that is an internationally acclaimed wetland.

The Chilika Development Authority has renovated the bird interpretation centre called Bihanga Bhavan at Mangaljodi for Rs 10 lakh. The centre has maps and charts depicting the migration pattern of birds, their ecology and congregation sites.

Mangaljodi, where migratory birds flock in large numbers during the winter, has been hailed by the Bombay Natural History Society, which describes it as an ideal congregation ground for the winged guests coming from various parts of Asia and beyond.

Steps are also being taken to construct at least a dozen rooms, watchtowers and nature trails at Mangaljodi, which was notorious for the poaching of migratory birds. However, Chilika divisional forest officer Bikash Ranjan Dash said Mangaljodi was now a safe place for birds with local residents having been motivated to protect the winged guests.

"During the winter when the entire lake area comes alive with the sound of birds, we take special care to ensure that they are safe and enjoy their stay at places such as Mangaljodi," said Dash.

Other sites being developed by the Odisha government as part of this new tourism project include Barakhandia and Dhodrokusum under the Hirakud wildlife division, Kumari and Jamuani under the Baripada wildlife division, Deras and Godibari under the Chandaka wildlife division and Tarava and Chhotkei under the Satkosia wildlife division. Most of these places draw picnickers in large numbers, especially during the winter.

Sources said the Odisha government was keen to ensure the success of the ecotourism project as people these days preferred visiting wildlife sanctuaries, lakes and waterfalls more than temples and heritage sites. "Developing ecotourism sites is a good initiative," said Shahi Kant Mishra, a nature enthusiast.

Source: The Telegraph India