KENDRAPARA/BARIPADA: The Bhitarkanika National Park in Kendrapara district and Talasari beach in Balasore on Monday became the latest inclusions in the list of destinations earmarked for all-round development under the Mo Sarkar initiative of the State Government. Chief Secretary Asit Tripathy along with Secretary of Transformation of Initiatives (5T) V Karthikeyan Pandian, Works Secretary Krishan Kumar and Tourism Director Sachin Ramachandra Jadhav on Monday visited Bhitarkanika National Park in the district to chalk out plans to promote eco-tourism in the country’s second-largest mangrove forest.
The officials arrived at the makeshift helipad at Khamarasahi near the park and visited the crocodile breeding and rearing centre at Dangamala. They held discussions with senior officials on ways to promote eco-tourism at Bhitarkanika and Gahirmatha marine sanctuary to attract more tourists to these sites.
Eco-tourism as an activity will create employment opportunities for villagers residing around the park.
It is essential to ensure that growth and development of eco-tourism sector are sustainable and socially responsible, said Collector Samarth Verma. Eco-tourism in Bhitarkanika is a huge employment generator and has a multiplier impact on the economy. Eco-tourism can lead to the reduction of poverty, he said.
Triapthy along with Pandian, Kumar and other senior officials also visited the Udaypur-Talasari beach in Bhograi block of Balasore district on the day. After arriving at Hasinpur Helipad, Pandian reviewed progress of various projects aimed at developing tourist sites in the district. The tourist site bordering West Bengal is located around 95 km from Balasore town.
The 5T Secretary studied the site map of the two beaches and held discussions with officials regarding their development and beautification. Later, he inspected the beachfront.
Pandian also reviewed facilities and the scope to promote the beaches. It is expected that the State Government would soon announce a package for transformation and development of the tourist spots.
In 2015, the State Government had constituted a development authority to improve basic amenities to attract more tourists to the beach.
Sources said the authority, which covers more than 36 villages near Talasari, is yet to prepare a master plan for development of the area.
In January last year, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had laid the foundation stone for a rest hall at Chandaneswar at a cost of `2.20 crore. However, the structure is yet to be completed. Even as Odisha Government continues to neglect the beach, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on December 13 last year had flagged off a business conclave at the bordering sea town of Digha as part of her plans to transform the area into a tourism hot spot.