BHUBANESWAR: In a first, Satkosia Sands Resort and Nature Camp at Badmul in Nayagarh district has generated a whopping ` one crore this year proving that community-run eco-tourism can be a success.
Situated on the banks of Mahanadi river in the heart of Satkosia Tiger Reserve, the eco-tourism project, run by villagers of Muduligadia, has scripted a story of its own in socio-economic reforms and forest protection with this feat.
This success story also speaks of the rich potential which Odisha has in nature tourism. The State is a part of Eastern Ghats with Chhotnagpur Plateau on the west and rivers, lagoon, mountains, valleys and dense forests sheltering many wild animals - from melanistic tigers to migratory birds like Flamingos and skimmers.
The project was started in 2016 by Forest Department under an initiative ‘Community Managed Nature Tourism in Odisha’ with an objective to strengthen forest and wildlife conservation by providing alternative livelihood to communities of tiger reserve dependent on forests.
An Eco Development Committee - Maa Satabhauni - was formed to manage the project which has 16 tents and cottages on Mahanadi banks facing Satkosia Gorge.In the last three years, the income of the project increased from `31 lakh to `60 lakh and this year, it reached ` one crore with 3,000 tourists, including foreigners from countries like France, Britain and Germany, visiting the nature camp.
Since its inception, the nature camp has earned a total revenue of `2 crore. As many as 28 locals from nearby villages are managing the camp and most of them are women. As per policy decision, 90 pc of the income generated goes to the community. It commenced with 16 tents and cottages on the bank of river Mahanadi facing Satkosia Gorge which is an important habitat for both Gharial and Mugger.The camp site was earlier used by illegal sand miners for lifting sand. But since the project started, villagers are protecting the river bank and adjoining forest. The nature camp also provides sports, birding, boating, cycling, canopy walk, trekking and farmland visits.