Chilika Lake as “Destination Flyway” to get a Facelift

Bhubaneswar: Chilika has been declared as “Destination Flyway” by United Nation’s World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) because of its natural treasure and bio-diversity. To restore and manage Chilka Lake and its basin a meeting was held by the chief secretary Gokul Chandra Pati recently in Bhubaneswar. The Chief Executive Chilika Development Authority Dr Ajit Kumar Pattanaik presented the updates and proposed action plans.

The chief secretary has advised the concerned departments to initiate a detailed scientific study on how to retain ecological balance and develop bio-diversity of Chilika in the perspective of the natural changes and dynamics on its opening mouth to the sea. According to sources at present there are about 4 mouths in Chilika including the old Palur mouth. The other three apenings are Gabakunda inlet, Dhalabali inlet and new Phailin inlet, opened after the cyclone Phailin hit the south Odisha coast. There are about 211 bird species, largest Irrawaddy dolphin population, 217 fish species and more than 30 migratory species.

Specific interventions have been taken up by Govt during the last years for understanding the complex ecosystem, modelling of hydro-dynamics to retain the optimum salinity gradient of the lake and adaptive restoration planning through wide consultative processes. Management of the wet-land with micro watershed ecological units and empowerment of local communities through capacity building have also been taken up. Strategic Partnerships have been made with a number of voluntary and community based organisations and a close monitoring system has been put in place. Because of these interventions, there has been 7 fold increase in annual fish and prone landing. At present the Lake is yielding the fisheries of worth 110 cr per annum.. There has been expansion of sea grass meadows, increase in dolphin population and avian fauna. There has been re-appearance of hilsa and other native fish species, sources added.

Alternative sources of livelihood for local community have also emerged because of bio-diversity and livelihood interventions of Govt. At present, near about Rs 40 crore per annum is being earned from community based eco-tourism activities. Near about 850 boats are being used for dolphin watching and 400 boats are being used to conduct the tourists for bird watching. The boats of the local fisherman have been engaged in these activities which has reduced the pressure on fishery. Chief Secretary Pati was keen and advised CDA authorities to scale up fishery resources to the tune of Rs 200 crores in coming year.

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