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Environmentalists raise concern over Ropeway in Chilika

Bhubaneswar: To attract tourists, the Odisha government is planning to install the longest ropeway in Chilika lake under the ‘Parvatmala’ scheme of the central government. As per the plan prepared by the Works Department, there will be two ropeways over Chilika. The longest one would be 5.3 km from Prayagi Krushnaprasad Road (Nandala – Krushnaprasad) to Kalijai temple and another will be 3.34 km from Jhankikuda Road to Kalijai temple.

However, environmentalists are worried that the project may prove harmful to the wetland and affect lakhs of migratory birds coming to the lake annually. They also claimed that over-exploitation of Chilika to boost tourism and fishing may destroy the lake. 

Jaya Krushna Panigrahi, Secretary of Odisha Environmental Society shared, “The impact of human intervention on the natural ecosystem of the lake has been increasing day by day. The ropeway, if constructed over the lake would create problems for the birds and marine species. It would create more disturbance.”  

Their natural ecosystem needs to be preserved, he stated.

Chilika lake which is listed as the Ramsar Site is Asia’s largest brackish water lagoon where over a million migratory birds visit from across the world during the winter season.

Stating that the ropeway proposal is unnecessary, Ranjan Panda, an environmentalist said, “There is no need for a ropeway in Chilika. It’s an unnecessary project being imposed under the Parvatmala scheme.”

Lamenting that the lake has been overburdened with fishing and tourists movement, he said, “Chilika is already dealing with lots of pressure. We shouldn’t temper with the ecological hotspots or disturb local species. Moreover, the ropeway can not provide the necessary transportation to the local people.”

Focusing only on the tourism aspect is not right, the government needs to come up with a holistic plan, he said adding that increasing tourists had eventually caused an increase in the number of boats and their movement is affecting marine species and polluting the water.

The National Highways Logistic Management Limited (NHLML), a subsidiary of the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) will take up the ropeway projects under the Parvatmala scheme. 

Raising the issue of increasing water pollutants in the lake, Panigrahi further said, “The drainage pollutants through rivers and rivulets are reaching the lake water which is causing water pollution. This apart siltation is another major issue which needs to be tackled.”

According to Panigrahi, during the rainy season, a large number of slits get transported into the lake due to which the water depth is decreasing. The silt deposition in the marginalised area is leading to the reclamation for agricultural purposes. “Due to this the lake area is shrinking,” he shared.

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