Bhubaneswar: In an aim to make its claim stronger, the State Government has decided to set up Eco tourism camps at disputed Kotia village and Deomali hill top in Koraput district.
This was decided at a high-level meeting held under the Chairmanship of Chief Secretary Suresh Chandra Mahapatra here on Friday.
Notably, neighboring Andhra Pradesh is claiming that Kotia is part of its territory. Strongly objecting to the claim of AP, the Odisha government has moved to the Supreme Court and the case is under sub-judice now.
Considering the tourist attraction potential of the proposals, Mahapatra approved a total of 10 new spots for development of Eco-tousism with night stay facilities, and three new spots for development as nature-camp for the day tourists.
The new eco-tourism approved in the meeting included Deomali hill top in Koraput district, Kotia in Koraput, Jakam of Kalahandi, Nawana of Similipal north, silviculture garden of Phulbani, Muhana Muhana at Astaranga in Puri, Khadakhai dam in Rairangpur, Mahendragiri from Ganjam side in Berhampur, Kanjipani Ghat and Hadagarh dam in Keonjhar forest divisions.
Similarly, new nature camps for the day tourists would be developed at Rani Duduma of Koraput, Dhaltangarh of Cuttack, and Bhandarpahar near Jhadeswari temple of Nayagarh forest divisions.
While approving the proposals, the Chief Secretary gave strict directions for proper maintenance of the facilities already created and being created newly through close monitoring. Concerned Divisional Forest Officers (DFOs) and supervising officers were asked to go inside each cottage and verify proper functioning of all facilities including the dining places, toilets etc.
He also directed the Forest Department to involve local communities in hospitality and upkeep of the spots so that they earn their livelihood and preserve natural environs of the spots.
PCCF Wildlife Sashi Paul appraised that as of now 50 total eco-retreat destinations and nature camps are operating in the State. With these 13 new approvals, the total number of spots would increase to 63. These spots are growing popular with increasing footfalls and revenue generation.
Online booking facility has also been rolled out. So far, around Rs.95 crore has been invested in development of the eco-destinations.
Review showed a constant increase in the number of footfalls at the eco-destinations. It increased almost by 142 per cent in the last 5 years. It increased from 11,500 in the year 2017-18 to 29,024 in the year 2018-19, and then to 57,000 in the year 2020-21. The year 2021-22 witnessed a surge in footfall to 70,216.
Concomitantly, the revenue generated from ecotourism increased from Rs.3.40 crore in 2017-18 to Rs.8.32 crore in 2020-21 and then to Rs. 10.52 crore in 2021-22.
Chief Secretary Mahapatra said, “Conservation of forest and nature is turning a sustainable treasure for the community, and promote that by all possible means”. He also advised to strengthen the intervention through the formation of Eco-Tourism Society.
Additional Chief Secretary Forest, Environment and Climate Change, Satyabrata Sahu along with senior officers of concerned departments participated in the deliberations.