Odisha’s Bhitarkanika National Park introduces eco-friendly boats to transport tourists

A battery-powered, quiet boat has been opened to tourists in Bhitarkanika National Park in Kendrapara district of Odisha, a forest official said.

The move was welcomed by an environmentalist, who said the noise from mechanized boats disturbs the serenity of the place and distracts saltwater crocodiles and other wildlife.

Tourists can use the paid services of the ecological boat, which will make continuous trips to the water bodies of the second largest mangrove ecosystem in the country.

The state-of-the-art, pollution-free boat was purchased at a cost of 23 million. It can carry eight people, according to the official.

“We will use this boat on an experimental basis for two months, after which other boats of this type will be purchased,” said JD Pati, divisional forestry officer.

The Forestry Department had earlier introduced solar-powered three-wheelers to the park for tourists to get around.

Environmental activist Hemant Rout said it was high time authorities encouraged private boat operators to use quiet boats in the sanctuary’s water bodies.

“Mechanized boats should be phased out,” Rout added.

The wildlife sanctuary, which is essentially a network of streams and canals, is home to the largest congregation of endangered saltwater crocodiles in the country, according to Odisha Tourism.

Gahirmatha Beach, which forms the eastern boundary of the sanctuary, is the largest colony of olive ridley turtles, according to its website.

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