Berhampur (Odisha): Daha, a wetland near Bhanjanagar in Odisha's Ganjam district, is all set to get a makeover with the state's Wetland Development Authority approving Rs 5.50 crore for a restoration project.
In the first phase, Rs 60 lakh has already been released, official sources said.
While the ecosystem in the area will be restored through massive plantation under the project, de-siltation will be carried out to increase the water-holding capacity of the reservoir, said Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), Ghumusara North Division, Ramaswamy P.
Steps will be taken to improve the socio-economic standard of the people, mainly fishermen, under the wetland development programme, he said.
The 2,600-hectare wetland, located at Indragada near Bhanjanagar, 100 km from here, is facing a threat due to illegal felling of trees in the nearby forest, encroachment of the water body for cultivation and massive siltation.
Over 5,000 people of nearby villages depend on fishing in the reservoir to eke out a living. The reservoir was constructed by making a 3.5-km dam.
Expressing concern over its degradation, environmentalists had urged the government to improve its fragile ecosystem.
The project will involve other related departments like agriculture, horticulture, fisheries, panchayat raj and health. It should help improve the economic condition of the people who are dependent on the wetland. The main objective of the project is to develop the picturesque site as an ecotourism hotspot, he said.
Some of the other programme planned for the wetland are treatment of its 167 sq km long catchment area, regeneration of the degraded forest, establishment of the children's park near the dam site and setting up of watchtowers, the DFO said.
Farmers and fishermen in the area will be trained in proper use of the wetland, he added. The state-owned Chilika Development Authority has agreed to provide technical support for the improvement of the ecosystem.
As many as 1,500 people from 12 Vana Sarankshana Samitis have been selected proper utilization of the wetland, the sources said.