Tourists enjoy boat rides in the Tampara lake in Berhampur. Telegraph picture
Berhampur, Oct. 12: Tampara, a wetland near Chatrapur in Ganjam district on NH-5, will get a facelift soon.The wetland was inaugurated as a tourist spot on March 22, 2006.
The 5.8 km-long and 670 metre-wide wetland, used for water sports and boating earlier, is under the management of the department of tourism. It was completely damaged during the October 2013 Phailin cyclone.
The wetland will be developed under the 'Swadesh Darshan Scheme' with financial assistance amounting Rs 33.44 crore from the Union government. "Under this scheme, roads, a large jetty, water park, enhancement of water sports, eco cottage, tourist reception centre, solid waste management, solar street lighting, and small solar lights are to be developed," said Ganjam tourist officer Sanatan Naik.
The Odisha Tourism Development Corporation (OTDC) is the executing agency. "We hope to provide these facilities to the tourists once the spot gets a facelift," he added. Work on the project is under way, Naik added.
Two floating jetty with platform, two water scooters, six paddleboats, and seven rowing boats were damaged during Phailin. The cyclone also destroyed 22 decorative fibre electric light posts, ladies and gents static toilets, 20KV sub-stations, 5 life jackets kept inside a room, furniture, tents and more three years ago.
"Boating at Tampara has been officially closed since 2012 and the activity is yet to resume," the tourist officer said.
However, the Tampara wetland is popular among tourists who throng to the spot every year, said Naik.
The Tampara lake, designated as a tourist spot by the state government in 2008, attracted 50,104 tourists in 2015, 38,670 in 2014, 29,920 in 2013, 29,108 in 2012 and 28,537 in 2011, 27,425 in 2010, 26,755 in 2009 and 26,230 in 2008, official sources said.
State minister of culture and tourism Ashok Panda had laid the foundation stone for the infrastructure development of the Tampara wetland on September 13 last year amid much funfair. Though it has tremendous tourist potential, it remains neglected.
Subhakanta Ray, a tourist from Calcutta, said: "Though there is tremendous scope for development of this lake and the boat club to attract thousands of local as well as international tourists, the authorities have virtually taken no steps to develop this unique spot."
G. Srinu from Visakhapatnam, who visits Tampara every year, said wetlands and its green surroundings give him immense pleasure.
"But the potential has not been tapped here. I don't know why the government is not interested in developing infrastructure in Tampara. The government should realise that it is difficult for tourists to visit the place and spend a few hours here, but many would if the infrastructure is made available," Srinu said.