By Bizodisha Bureau, September 8, 2018: The Chilika Development Authority (CDA) is opposed to the proposed water aerodrome and sea plane operation in the Chilka saying that it would lead to irrevocable damage to the eco-system and livelihood of the population dependent on it.

“The cost involved from the operation of sea plane seems far outweigh the benefits likely to accrue. Legally it is also not feasible,” the CDA said in a report.

Earlier, Odisha government had asked the CDA to study the proposal of the Union Civil Aviation Ministry for setting up a water aerodrome and sea plane operation from the lagoon.

The lake is a highly productive eco-system with rich fishery resources sustaining the livelihood of more than two lakh fishermen who live in and around the lake, the report said adding that due to its rich biodiversity and socio-economic importance, Chilika lake is designated as a Ramsar Site in 1981 as wetland of international importance.

In the Lake, there are 335 species of fish, 230 species of birds and 399 phytoplanktons, 729 plants, 30 reptiles making it a unique aquatic eco-system in the world.

The report said operation of sea plane at any location of the lake may have serious and far-reaching consequences on the eco-system of the lake.

“This is turn, will affect directly the livelihood of fishermen of 151 villages around Chilika in the three districts of Khurda, Puri and Ganjam,” the report said.

Noting that the bird congregation during winter season is around 10 lakh and almost the entire area of the lake is used by birds as habitat, particularly the shallow regions of the wetland, the CDA said the Lake houses 230 bird species out of which 97 are from the Arctic and Eurasian region.

The most common among them are the ducks and geese along with 9 threatened bird species. The birds migrate along the central Asian flyway as depicted in the map.

“With sea planes playing in the region, these migratory paths and their habitat inside the Lake are going to be seriously jeopardised from the movement and sound that the sea plane is likely to generate,” the report said.

The most enchanting feature of Chilika for the tourist because of its fascinating avifauna, might be lost forever if the sea plane is allowed to ply in the lake, the CDA report said adding that Irrawaddy dolphin is the flagship species inhabiting the Chilika.

The Chilkia lake is one of the two known lagoons in the world that supports Irrawaddy dolphin population and at present has the distinction of having the largest population of the threatened species in the world.

The entire tourism in Satapada and central sector of the Lake is dependent on the endangered 157 dolphins, now seen in all parts, it said.

“The dolphins are highly sensitive to the sound and their breeding suffers due to high decibel sound around their habitat,” it said.

The impact of sea plane landing and take off will endanger the population of this flagship species, breeding of fish and sound the death knell for the tourism industry and affect the livelihood of nearly 5000 families dependent on tourism, it said.

The legal provisions under Wetland Conservation and Management Rule, 2017 applicable to this Ramsar site, vide Section 4(2) prohibits conversion for non-wetland uses.

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