Pradhan (sitting left) enjoying a boat ride in Bhitarkanika National Park on Sunday.
Pradhan (sitting left) enjoying a boat ride in Bhitarkanika National Park on Sunday.

Bharatmala will pave way for coastal Odisha growth, says Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan

Union Minister Pradhan takes a trip to Bhitarkanika, soaks in nature

KENDRAPARA: The proposed 452-km coastal highway from Gopalpur to Digha of West Bengal under the Bharatmala Pariyojana project will pave way for development in coastal Odisha, said Union Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas and Steel Dharmendra Pradhan on Sunday.

Talking to mediapersons after his visit to Bhitarkanika National Park here, Pradhan said the `7,500 crore coastal highway project will also act as an economic corridor for transport of agricultural and pisciculture produce to Paradip and Dhamra ports. Besides, it would protect seaside villages from the onslaught of cyclones and floods.  

The proposed highway will pass through Chhatrapur, Satapada, Konark, Astaranga, Nuagaon, Paradip, Ratanpur, Satabhaya, Dhamra, Basudevpur, Talapada, Chandipur, Chandaneswar and Digha. Of the total length of 452 km of project, around 29 km will come under  Ganjam district, 153 km under Puri, 54 km under Jagatsinghpur, 49 km under Kendrapara, 62 km under Bhadrak, 99 km under Balasore and six km will connect East Medinipur in West  Bengal. More than 178 villages in all these districts would be connected by the highway.

The Ministries of Tourism, Environment and Forest will help Odisha government promote eco-tourism in Bhitarkanika and  Gahirmatha marine sanctuary to attract more tourists to these places. Eco-tourism will be developed without causing damage to  vegetation and wildlife, Pradhan informed.

Eco-tourism as an activity will create employment opportunities for many villagers around Bhitarkanika National Park. “It is essential to ensure the growth and development of eco-tourism sector which is sustainable and socially responsible besides creation of work opportunities. Eco-tourism in Bhitarkanika is a big employment generator and has multiplier impact on the economy. It is a major contributor to employment creation, particularly for women and youths. Eco-tourism can lead to reduction of poverty,” the Union Minister said.

Pradhan said, villagers around the park would earn more money by showcasing the mangrove forests and extending homely hospitality to visiting tourists. Eco-tourism projects will act as a window to the treasure trove of natural resources in forests, he added. Following his visit to Bhitarkanika, Pradhan took to micro-blogging platform Twitter and stated, “Dense mangrove forests, exciting trekking trails, birds chirping in colonies, creeks and canals teeming with wildlife in Bhitarkanika National Park spoil you for choices.  An off-the-beaten track, a visit to Bhitarkanika is a must during this time of the year.”

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