SUBJECT : Master plan on the anvil for development of Chilika lake 

A master plan is on the anvil for development of tourism prospects of Chilika lake in Odisha and its adjoining areas.

This master plan is being prepared at the initiative of the Chilika Development Authority (CDA) under Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project (ICZMP) of Odisha. An international developmental consultancy agency, IPE Global is providing technical assistance for preparation of this master plan.

Chilika lake happens to be the largest brackish water lagoon in Asia and second largest in the world. It is a major destination of migratory birds in winter as well as home of endangered Irrawaddy dolphins. According to Anuja Shukla, program manager of IPE Global, the aim is to promote responsible tourism in Chilika lake region that includes promotion of eco-tourism and community based tourism with focus on wise use of natural resources with compliance with laws and regulations related to environment. Under the master plan a project profile is being prepared for tourism investment opportunities. A maximum of ten priority investment projects would be proposed under the plan to be taken up by government under Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode.

This master plan has assessed potential tourist spots around Chilika lake that can be further developed as key tourism attractions. Three different clusters including nature tourism, adventure tourism and culture tourism have been identified as part of this tourism master plan. Centres of cultural interest and handicraft like Dandi Sahi, Raghurajpur, Pipli are also part of this tourism development master plan.

Main thrust area of this master plan is protection of environment and wildlife in Chilika lake. At present dolphin watching is a major tourism activity in Chilika lake. Unplanned mass tourism activity has posed a threat to the shy sea mammals. So, the project includes a detail plan to regulate and streamline flow of boats and tourists to the dolphin habitat region of the lake. Similar code of conduct and operational guidelines has been proposed for Mangaljodi, a major destination of migratory birds.

This master plan has proposed birding weekends and birding festivals to attract more nature and migratory bird loving tourists to Chilika lake. This would also benefit local community living near Chilika as these have to be planned with active participation of these localites.

Three different clusters including nature tourism, adventure tourism and culture tourism have been identified as part of the plan.

Source: The Hindu - 09.06.2016