Bhubaneswar: Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik inaugurated the 3rd National Chilika Bird Festival through videoconferencing Friday.
Patnaik described the destination as “a pilgrimage for over a million winged visitors of varied species, which undertake flights to the mighty but calm Chilika Lake – Asia’s largest brackish water lake.” He applauded the efforts of Odisha Tourism and Ecotour Odisha for having organised the event which promises to add another feather to Odisha’s cap – a soaring birding hub.
The three-day programme will witness participation of 55 selected birders representing nine states – Maharashtra, Karnataka, Delhi, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and West Bengal, besides Odisha.
Offering a gist of the focused conservation campaign by the government, Chief Secretary Suresh Mohapatra said, “Chilika’s Mangalajodi is a pioneering work in community-led conservation. It is an unparalleled birding destination. From protective actions like removing encroachments to the massive census exercise conducted a few days back, and promotional campaigns such as the Chilika Bird Festival – we jointly aspire to make Odisha – Chilika along with other niche destinations such as Satkosia, Bhitarkanika and Hirakud – the most sought-after birding destination of Asia-Pacific region. I take great pride in conveying that this year’s census has revealed a total count of 11.42 lakh birds. I also convey our sincere gratitude to the census teams for the phenomenal work.”
On the government’s roadmap to expand ecotourism, Mohapatra revealed about the plan to expand Ecotour Odisha’s successful community-managed hospitality to over 100 camps in the coming years.
In a concurrent development, the Tourism and Forest & Environment departments renewed their agreements signed in March 2017. The objective is to tap and promote the state’s ecotourism potential, thus creating alternative employment opportunities for local community.
Articulating a timely analogy, Tourism Minister Jyoti Prakash Panigrahi said, “Who says foreign tourist arrivals is curtailed? Not for these winged guests that Odisha’s pride, Chilika Lake, hosts every year. Birds metaphorically represent a quest for freedom from the immobility imposed by the pandemic – the world over.”