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Eco Retreats Gains Currency

Bhubaneswar: Eco-retreats in the State have made headway beating the economic slowdown caused by the global pandemic of Covid-19 and recorded 96 per cent growth in foot falls and 49 percent growth in revenue generation during the last two years.

While providing decent alternative livelihood to the poor, it has also enhanced economic activities in the community while conservation of forest and nature is turning a sustainable treasure for the community.

This was revealed at a high level meeting chaired by Chief Secretary Suresh Chandra Mahapatra here on Friday.

Reviewing the progress made so far, the Chief Secretary directed to expeditiously open up the newly developed eco-retreat spots like Nrusinghnath in Bargarh district, Pine forest in Koraput, Patora Dam in Nuapada, Tensa in Sundargarh and Kanjiapani in Keonjhar district.

Mahapatra also directed to develop the new spots either as day tourist spots or as night stay camps depending on the natural uniqueness and tourist attraction potential of the spots.

Further, Mahapatra directed to develop night stay camps in the places like Kalinga Ghat pine forest, Bonai, Deomali hill top, Dambarugarh Mahanadi river side and Jakham eco-site in Kalahandi district.

It was also decided to develop Sikiri in Phulbani forest division, Bhimdunguri eco-site in Bolangir forest division, Baliput eco-site in Satkosia wildlife division, Phurlijharan waterfall spot in Kalahandi forest division, Rabandhara waterfall spot in Kalahandi forest division, ChakuriaGhat eco-center in Dhenkanal forest division and Dambarugarh eco-site in Boudh forest division.

The meeting deliberated on development of new eco-destinations, renovation and up- scaling of existing destinations, completion of the under construction destinations, capacity building and exposure visit of the community members.

An action plan of Rs.30 crore was approved for these purposes.

The Chief Secretary directed the officials to complete the projects expeditiously within the current year.

Further, Chief Secretary directed to ensure strict adherence to sanitation measures and covid appropriate behaviour in all eco-destinations.

An estimated budget of Rs.150 lakhs was sanctioned for 25 forest divisions for implementation of covid prevention SOP.

The review showed a constant increase in the number of visitors to the eco-destinations. It increased from 11,500 in the year 2017-18 to 29,024 in the year 2018-19 and further to 57,000 in the year 2020-21.

Similarly, the revenue generated from eco tourism increased from Rs.3.40 crore in 2017-18 to Rs.5.61 crore in 2018-19 and further to Rs.8.32 crore in 2020-21.

Additional Chief Secretary Forest and Environment Mona Sharma, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wild Life) Shashi Paul along with senior officers of concerned departments participated in the deliberations.