Water aerodrome in Chilika Lagoon likely to damage eco-system: CDA

Bhubaneswar: The Chilika Development Authority (CDA) has opposed the operation of seaplane and water aerodrome in the Chilika Lagoon in Odisha.

The CDA said operationalization of seaplane and water aerodrome is likely to cause irrevocable damage to the ecosystem and livelihood of the population dependent on it.

“Though the exact area and location of the water aerodrome for operation has not been shared with CDA, the operation of the seaplane at any location of the lake can have serious and far-reaching consequences on the ecosystem of the lake,” said  CDA chief executive authority Sushant Nanda in a report.

It said this will affect directly the livelihood of fisherfolk dependent on it and indirectly on the entire population of 151 villages dotted around Chilika in the three districts-Khurdha, Puri and Ganjam.

Notably, the civil aviation ministry has approved a proposal to set up water aerodrome at Chilika Lake. SpiceJet has been short-listed for setting up the facility, the first of its kind in the state.

While the CDA opposed the proposal, the leaders from ruling BJD also opposed the move of the Centre. BJD MLA Sanja Dasburma opposed the decision of the Centre in the state Assembly on Thursday.

Notably, based on its rich biodiversity and socio-economic importance, Chilika Lake was designated as a Ramsar site in 1981 as a wetland of international importance.

The lake is the assemblage of 335 species of fishes, 230 species of birds and is a habitat of 339 phytoplankton, 729 plants, 30 reptiles making it a unique aquatic ecosystem in the world.

“The bird congregation during the winter season is nearly one million and almost the entire area of the lake is used as habitat by the birds-more particularly the shallow regions of the wetland,” said the CDA report.

The lake houses 230 bird species out of which 97 are intercontinental migrants coming from the Arctic and Eurasian region. The most common among them are the ducks and geese along with nine threatened bird species, it added.

The birds migrate along the central Asian flyway.

“With seaplanes playing in the region, these migratory paths and the habitat inside the Lake are going to be seriously jeopardized from the movement and sound that the seaplane is likely to generate,” said the report.

The most enchanting feature of Chilika for the tourist because of its fascinating avifauna might be lost forever, it added.

On the other hand, it will affect the Irwadi dolphin, which is the flagship species inhabiting Chilika. It is one of the two lagoons in the world that supports Irwadi dolphin population. The lake has the largest population of 157 Irwadi dolphins in the world.