Ban on night stay at Bhitarkanika removed

Kendrapara: The ban on night stay of tourists at the Bhitarkanika National Park in Odisha, which led to a decline in footfall of Indian and foreign visitors, has been withdrawn.

The fall in number of visitors to the internationally acclaimed wetland in Kendrapara district also adversely affected the economy of villages on its fringes as residents found few employment opportunities to make a living.

"We have lifted the night stay ban on tourists. The restriction had to be imposed following attack by hooligans on forest staff in January," Divisional Forest Officer, Rajnagar Mangrove Forest Officer, Manoj Kumar Mahapatra, said.

The national park would remain open till May 15 and thereafter close till July 1 because of the nesting season of estuarine crocodiles.

It has now been made mandatory for visitors and tourists to carry proof of identity and it was necessary for securing an entry permit, forest officials said.

The forest department has also sought closure and relocation of IMFL shops at Gupti and Dangmal at the entry points to the national park, but the district administration was yet to respond, they added.