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Chilika Lake soon to get World Heritage Site status

 The largest brackish water lagoon of the country, Chilika Lake will soon get World Heritage Site status.

The State government is preparing a detailed project report (DPR) to develop Chilika Lake into a World Heritage Site in collaboration with UNESCO and Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC). Forest and Environment Secretary Suresh Mohapatra after a meeting with Shigeru Aoyagi, Director and UNESCO Chief Representative to India and ONGC Human Resources Director said the government is preparing a project plan to ensure conservation and sustainable development of the lake. “The ONGC proposed to provide the necessary funds required in this regard. Preparations to finalise the plan might take a year as we have to hold consultations with all the stakeholders associated with the ecosystem after which strategy and implementation will be decided upon,” Mohapatra said.

As per sources, the ONGC has already funded Rs 5 crore for the initial stage of the project preparation. UNESCO DG, Shigeru Aoyagi also assured that they would be very happy to declare Chilika Lake as an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Efforts are on to initiate process of taking short and long-term measures to conserve Chilika lake and nominate it for the UNESCO natural heritage tag. The UNESCO has also proposed to set up a world class conservation centre with climate change observatory and state-of-the-art data and monitoring facilities.

Notably, measures including income generation and welfare activities in the lake area, improvement in the livelihood of fishing community, protection of ecosystem and sustainable development have to be efficiently taken to earn the label of the heritage tag. Union Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan had earlier written a letter seeking mentorship and guidance of the state government in making the project successful.

Chilika lake is one of the most important natural ecosystem filled with rich bio-diversity including fisheries, birds, reptiles and several other species of flora and fauna. It is not only the second largest brackish water lagoon in the world but also the largest wintering ground for migratory birds on the Indian sub-continent. Besides, it is also the first Indian wetland of international importance to be included under the Ramsar Convention in 1981.


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