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Wild meals for eco-tourists
- Villagers to start catering for visitors

Bhubaneswar, Dec. 17: Those planning a trip to birders’ paradise, Deras ó a part of Chandka wildlife sanctuary ó need not bother about trivial stuff such as food anymore.

Eco-development committees constituted by state’s forest department would be taking care of the preparation and disposal of food for sanctuary visitors at a price of Rs 100 to Rs 500, depending on the size of the visiting group.

State officers believe that the new plan would benefit in three ways ó it would make travelling light and easy for tourists, provide a chance for extra income to villagers living nearby and most importantly keep the place clean and free from litter.

Especially three spots have been chosen where cooking would be permitted, while other parts of the area would be prohibited zones.

Visitors would have to book in advance to avoid overlapping.

“We started all the moves keeping in mind the forthcoming picnic season. Also, we believe that if the villagers take care of the food then there would be less littering,” said divisional forest officer in-charge of Chandka wildlife sanctuary, Akshay Patnaik.

For now, villagers have been trained to handle all affairs starting from the first step ó interaction ó to cleaning up. “Earlier, every picnic season was a menace. Burnt wood and cooked and raw waste, polythene packets and bottles were littered everywhere. Hopefully, the system would put an end to all these problems,” Pattnaik said.

There are 28 eco-development committees in Chandka and for now one committee is being developed as a role model for this purpose.

As many as 15,000 visitors visit Chandka every year and the number has been on the rise every year. The forest is spread over 193.39sqkm of tableland with hillocks. It was declared a sanctuary in August 1982 to provide refuge to elephants. It’s now a popular destination for travellers, eco-tourists and researchers.

The area also has two forts ó the Bualigarh and the Chudanga ó with irrigation channels, sluice gates, dams, tanks, wells and walls plinths built between 1078-1147 AD, during the rule of Ananta Varma Chodagangadev.

The sanctuary also has the Kochilaberna, Patagadia and Charichhak watchtowers along with Garhbhanga waterfall. “With so much to see, visitors to Chandka should not waste time bothering about mundane chores,” said the forest officer.

“If the experiment at Deras proves successful, we might introduce it at other places,” he added.

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