The Telegraph
Saturday , February 22 , 2014
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Scuba on Nandankanan radar

Forest dept plans move to attract visitors

Bhubaneswar, Feb. 21: When at Nandankanan, don’t just scout for animals, but get ready to dive deep.

Are you ready for the dive?

The forest department is thinking of introducing scuba diving in the zoo’s Kanjia lake to attract more visitors.

“There should be other activities for visitors apart from boating and ropeway. The idea of introducing this water sport is to give a thrilling experience to the visitors. We have asked the zoo director to conduct a feasibility study for the introduction of scuba diving,” said forest and environment secretary R.K. Sharma.

Zoo officials said that though the depth of water in the lake is just around 10 feet, scuba diving could still be tried out. “The intention is to give the tourists a feel of scuba diving. We will take the suggestion of professional scuba divers in this regard,” said a zoo official.

The lake where the tourists are supposed to enjoy diving, when the sport is introduced, has an area of 75 hectares. The water body is home to 20 species of reptiles, 46 species of fish, 10 species of amphibians and three species of prawns.

The lake was declared a “Wetland of National Importance” by the Union ministry of environment and forest in 2006.

Professional divers said that the lake could be used as a site for scuba diving.

“I had dived in the lake three years ago and had recorded an underwater video. Low visibility in the water is a major concern. But with the help of experts, the idea can still be implemented. For example, a small portion of the lake near its banks could be developed for diving,” said Sabir Bux, an internationally-acclaimed scuba diver.

“A small portion of the lake can be dredged to the depth of six or eight feet to develop a water tank with the bottom lined with rock, sand and lime stones to increase visibility. Diving in the lake, however, has to be done under the guidance of experts,” said Bux.

Kanjia lake in Nandankanan. Picture by Sanjib Mukherjee

He said that a number of other sites in the state are conducive to scuba diving.

These include Wheeler Island near Chandipur, Chilika and Mahanadi near Jobra in Cuttack.

Besides being the main source of water in the park, the lake draws tourists who enjoy boating. There is also a ropeway over the lake. The forest department is also panning to come up with a comprehensive plan to attract more tourists to the botanical garden.

The number of tourists visiting the zoo is on the rise. As many as 29.05 lakh visitors came to the zoo in 2012-13, which was a significant increase from 2011-12, when 24.69 lakh people visited.

“We are planning to introduce a number of initiatives including visitor-friendly amenities to attract more tourists,” said a forest official.

I had dived in the lake three years ago...Low visibility in the water is a major concern. But with the help of experts, the idea can still be implemented
Sabir Bux
scuba diver

Popular dive sites in India

• Goa
• Lakshadweep
• Andamans
• Pondicherry