UNWTO declares Chilika Lake as ‘Destination Flyway’

Bhubaneswar: The Chilika lake in Odisha has been declared as ‘Destination Flyway’ by the United Nation’s World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) because of its natural treasure and bio-diversity, officials said.

The chief executive of Chilika Development Authority (CDA) Ajit Kumar Pattnaik has informed that the lake has been accorded the tag of ‘Destination Flyway’ by the UN body.

The high level meeting was presided over by Chief Secretary G C Pati, officials said.

The issues related to the restoration and management of brackish water lagoon and its basin were discussed in the meeting, Pattnaik said.

He said the Chief Secretary has suggested to initiate a detailed scientific study on how to retain the ecological balance and develop bio-diversity of Chilika considering its opening mouth to the sea.

There are about four mouths in Chilika including the old Palur mouth.

The other three are Gabakunda inlet, Dhalabali inlet and new Phailin inlet (opened after the cyclone Phailin).

The water body also boasts off about 211 bird species, largest Irrawaddy dolphin population, 217 fish species and more than 30 migratory species, according to CDA estimate.

Strategic Partnerships have been made with a number of voluntary and community based organisations and a close monitoring system has been put in place by the authorities.

Following such steps, there has been a seven-fold increase in alternative sources of livelihood for local community.

At present, 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 vessels 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.

The Chief Secretary suggested to the Chilika Development Authority to scale up fishery revenue to the tune of Rs 200 crore in the coming year.