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http://www.pragativadi.com/060611/other_news.htm#4

8 June 2011

Baripada:
The Odisha government is considering setting up an eco-tourism park in the Manchabandha Reserve in Baripada territorial forest division.

A project for wildlife conservation in the area is also in the pipeline, forest department sources said.

Nearly 822 hectares of lush green forest area has been earmarked for the projects.

The area is covered with dense Sal vegetation.

Of the total area, 210 hectares has been allotted as the core area, while the remaining 612 hectares has been earmarked as the buffer zone, the sources added.

The estimated cost of the projects would be Rs 10 crore.

Located barely 5 km from the district headquarters town, the area has an immense potential for housing a eco-tourism centre of national or even international standards, said Bijayram Das, retired director of the department of soil conservation.

The forest is, at present, home for small animals like peacocks, porcupines, squirrels, hares, pangolins, monitor lizards, besides more than hundred varieties of birds, the cacophony of which is sure to soothe anyone's nerves, Das added.

Similipal is the home to 93 varieties of orchids, three of which are pretty common in Similipal.

We also have a proposal to start an in-situ conservation of orchids in the eco-tourism park. The flower-bearing trees that stay on for a long time will be a fascinating thing to watch, a forest official said.

Yet another attraction of the centre will be a fernery. Here different varieties of ferns will be brought from Similipal to be reared and conserved.

The scheme also envisages plantation of fruit trees to lure birds to the Bihanga Vihar, with hopes to transform the centre into a bird watchers' paradise, Das said.

The department will also build artificial nests for birds on treetops, sources said.

Water sources available at the Kathpal rivulet will be developed for use by both tourists and animals of the park.

The park will also have facilities for boating, the sources added.

The bullock cart, decorated with tribal arts, will carry the tourists through the forest, alongside a group of tribals singing and dancing with the traditional musical accompaniments.

This will add a new dimension to tribal tourism as well.

Revenue generated by eco-tourism will go to local joint forest management committees (JFMCs), thus providing impetus for these bodies to conserve the forests and their wildlife.

A central co-ordination committee of five JFMCs with the Manchabandha forester as its secretary will advise entrepreneurs on conservation of wildlife within the core area and management of eco-tourism.