BHUBANESWAR: The Ramsar Convention Secretariat’s proposal to set up a Ramsar Regional Centre for South Asia at Chilika was approved by the State Government here on Wednesday.
The governing body of Chilika Development Authority (CDA), headed by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, met here and gave its nod to the proposal. The regional centre would make the lagoon a hub of capacity building for wetland managers of South Asia.
The body also approved the annual plan of CDA at an estimated `26.74 crore for 2014-15. A host of activities including socio-economic development of fisherfolks living in and around Chilika, development of infrastructure and monitoring and management of the lagoon will be taken up as part of the plan.
The integrated management action plan of Chilika, presented before the 14th Finance Commission with an estimated outlay of `100 crore, was also approved. It will be implemented during 2015-2018.
A tourism master plan for Chilika and its catchment areas, which seeks to prepare project profile for 10 tourist sites to bring out their investment opportunities, was also okayed by the Government. The master plan’s outlay is projected at `2.42 crore and is being jointly devised by CDA and Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project.
The meeting informed that lake health monitoring system based at Wetland Research and Training Centre has been upgraded using the advanced data buoys systems deployed at strategic locations of the lagoon. These data buoys are providing necessary information to monitor health of the ecosystem to track the impacts of natural or man-made events on real time basis.
It was also decided that a statue of former Chief Minister Biju Pattnaik, the first chairperson of the governing body of CDA, will be installed at the Eco Park at Satapada.
Speaking at the meeting, the Chief Minister said steps are being taken to expedite enactment of the Chilika (Regulation of Fisheries) Bill.
He said Chilika warrants science-based management supported by cutting edge research. To achieve this, the WRTC at Barkul has to be developed into a state-of-the-art research laboratory. It is planned to make provision of necessary funds and manpower to achieve this, Naveen added.
The Chief Minister also said steps are being taken to empower primary fishermen cooperative societies (PFCSs). The Government had already provided share capital to the tune of `6 crore to extend soft loan to PFCS members. Besides, as many as 5,600 insulated iceboxes were supplied to the societies for preservation of fish quality.