Millennium Post

ONGC, UNESCO conduct survey of Chilika Lake

An initial survey has been conducted jointly by ONGC and UNESCO for declaring Chilika Lake as a UNESCO world heritage site and giving global recognition to Mangalajodi for conservation measures.

The survey was done to give a push to the project for conservation of eco-system in and around Chilika Lake area taken up by ONGC in partnership with UNESCO.

A joint team visited Mangalajodi wetlands and surrounding villages yesterday to have a first hand understanding of the conservation issues in the area. The team comprised of Shigeru Aoyagi, Director UNESCO for India, Bhutan, Maldives and Sri Lanka and D D Misra, Director (HR) of ONGC.

The ambitious project aims to declare Chilika Lake as UNESCO world heritage site and bring Mangalajodi, a bird watchers paradise, to a globally recognised site for its eco-system conservation measures, ONGC officials said.

Officials and representatives from the local administration, including Block Development Officer and Sarpanch also accompanied the visiting team.

As a result of interaction with various stakeholders in the village and local officials, certain focal areas have been identified to begin with so that effortsmay finally lead to declaration of Chilika Lake as UNESCO world heritage site, Aoyagi said. To begin with, various CSR activities are proposed to be taken up by ONGC in Mangalajodi Village.

UNESCO has proposed to set up a world class conservation centre with climate change observatory and state-of-art data and monitoring facilities, Mishra said.

The team also met Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Wednesday and apprised him of the visit.

Pradhan appreciated the efforts of ONGC and UNESCO for comprehensive development of the eco-system of Chilika Lake, officials said.

Focus of the initiative is particularly on the wetlands of Mangalajodi, which is intertwined with the conservation of migratory and endemic birds. The UNESCO Director appreciated the interest shown by Pradhan in conservation efforts and assured that he will also put in his best efforts to enable declaration of Chilika Lake as UNESCO's world heritage site.

For this, a comprehensive dossier with detailed development plan of the eco-system, including that of the inhabitants by involving various union ministries of Rural Development, Finance, Agriculture, Fisheries and Animal Husbandry and Environment and Forest departments and the state government, will be prepared, Aoyagi said.

Aoyagi also called on Bijayshree Routray, Odisha's minister of Environment and Forest, who assured all possible support from the state government in the project.

The statements of the UNESCO Director and the senior ONGC official came a day after Pradhan asked Odisha government to support UNESCO's plan of developing Chilika Lake as a world heritage site.
"UNESCO, in association with ONGC, plans to support the development of Chilika as world heritage site and enhance the value of the lake to become a brand of conservation linked sustainable development," Pradhan said in his letter to Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.

ONGC and UNESCO are in a process of taking short and long-term measures to conserve Chilika Lake, protect animals and birds, and improve the livelihood of fishing community, Pradhan said in the letter. The measures also include income generation and welfare activities in the lake area, he added.
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