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IANS

A battery-operated and soundless boat has been thrown open for tourists at the Bhitarkanika National Park in Odisha's Kendrapara district, a forest official said.

The move was welcomed by an environmentalist, who elucidated that the sound of mechanised boats disturbs the serenity of the place, and distracts the saltwater crocodiles and other wild animals.

Tourists can make use of the paid services of the eco-friendly boat, which will make continuous trips in the water bodies of the country's second-largest mangrove ecosystem.

The pollution-free state-of-the-art boat, was procured at the cost of Rs 23 lakh. It can carry eight people, according to the official.

"We'll use this boat on an experimental basis for two months, following which more such boats would be purchased," Divisional Forest Officer, J D Pati said.

The Forest Department had introduced solar-powered three-wheelers in the park earlier for tourists to move around.

Green activist Hemant Rout said it was high time that the authorities motivate private boat operators to use noiseless boats in the water bodies of the sanctuary.

"The mechanised boats should be withdrawn in a phased manner," Rout added.

The wildlife sanctuary, which is essentially a network of creeks and canals, is home to the largest congregation of the endangered saltwater crocodiles in the country, according to Odisha Tourism.

The Gahirmatha beach, which forms the boundary of the sanctuary in the east, is the largest colony of the olive ridley turtles, according to its website.

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