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Nandankanan lake chokes

- Encroachment threat to wetlands

Bhubaneswar, Dec. 29: The forest officials expressed concern over choking of inlets and outlets of Kanjia lake in the Nandankanan zoo.

Principal chief conservator of forest (Wildlife) J.D. Sharma, while speaking on the 53rd Foundation Day said not only Kanjia but also the lake inside the Ekamra Kanan of Regional Plant Resource Centre (RPRC) faced encroachment problems.

Wetlands are essential to maintain the ecological balance. Most of the wetlands in the city are facing encroachment problems blocking the inlets and outlets of the wetlands. “We will request the revenue department to clear all the encroachments,” said Sharma.

The lake is spread over 105 hectares, out of which the main lake is 75 hectares, whereas the remaining 30 hectares are small wetlands. The wetland assumes significance as it fulfills the fresh water requirement of Nandankanan zoo and botanical garden.

But rapid urbanisation in the area has taken a toll on the inlets and outlets of the lake, which is a major tourist attraction of the zoo. Sources in the zoo said Kanjia Lake was facing threat as a number of constructions have taken place on the small drain built to facilitate water passage to the lake.

The wetland has been declared as the wetland of national importance since 2006. Sources in the zoo said the wetland to the south of Mahanadi delta head, within the boundary of the zoo. A bear safari was inaugurated in the zoo today. It is the zoo’s fourth safari after lion, white tiger and herbivour safaris.

Director of the zoo, Sudarshan Panda, said it looked forward to tie up with other zoos to add to the existing animals.

“We have been successfully conducted captive breading of various species. We currently have more than 2,045 animals of 126 species. The zoo was able to draw more than 24 lakh visitors during 2011-12,” said Panda.

The zoo was established on December 29, 1960, in 3.62 sqkm.