As many as 30 such spots in 22 districts are being developed jointly by the forest and environment as well as the tourism departments. While the forest and environment department is creating the necessary infrastructure for tourists at these places, the tourism department will take care of the spots’ publicity. Forest officials said infrastructure development was in an advanced stage at several places, where tourism officials will put up signage and distribute other publicity material.
“It is the first joint venture of the two departments,” said an official on condition of anonymity.
Among the major sites, the government is focusing on Mangalajodi on the banks of the Chilika lake. Steps are also being taken to construct at least a dozen rooms, watchtowers and nature trails at the site.
Efforts are being made to turn former bird poachers in the area into their saviours by creating awareness among them about the need to protect the avians. “Motivating the poachers is an important task, because they know it pretty well as to how the birds are killed,” said a forest official. Chilika divisional forest officer Bikash Ranjan Das admitted that Mangalajogi was among the most sensitive areas in Chilika so far bird killing is concerned.
Among other ecotourism destinations that would receive the government’s attention with focus on infrastructure development are Barakhandia and Dhodrokusum under the Hirakud wildlife division, Kumari and Jamuani under Baripada wildlife division, Deras and Godibari under the Chandaka wildlife division and Tarava and Chhotkei under the Satkosia wildlife division.
Green activist Shashi Kant Mishra lauded the venture hoping that it would promote tourism in a big way. “Odisha’s natural wealth is phenomenal. What we lack is proper infrastructure to draw tourists. This project has come at the right time to address the problem,” said Mishra.