Uninhabited island in Odisha ready to host tourists

Kendrapara (Odisha): Nature lovers have a reason to rejoice as the Odisha government has prepped up the idyllic Habelikhati Island at Bhitarkanika National Park (BNP) for eco-tourism. Three well-furnished guest houses have come up on the island, ready to host visitors from 1 November, said a forest official.

Habelikhati, an uninhabited territory in Kendrapara district, is a nature’s paradise with dense forest cover and virgin sea encircling the island, Bimal Prasanna Acharya, the divisional forest officer of Rajnagar Mangrove (wildlife) Forest Division, said.

“With this new facility, the island would become a favoured eco-tourism destination, both for the domestic and the international visitors,” the DFO said.

The forest department had earlier built a tourist cottage on the island, but it was ravaged by marauding sea waves, he said. “The new guest houses, built very close to the sea, have now been readied to weather all odds,” Acharya claimed.

The island is also a favoured nesting ground for endangered Olive Ridley sea turtles. “One could come across the breathtaking sight of turtles invading the beach en masse to lay eggs by digging pits with their flippers. The turtles are sighted during February-March,” he said.

Besides, Habelikhati will make for an ideal spot to sight Gangetic dolphins, the forest official said. “Bhitarakanika National Park is one of the richest storehouses of mangrove genes. The green cover bordering the island is home to wild boar, jungle cat, fishing cat, hyena, sambar, striped palm squirrel and water monitors.”

It will take just about half-an-hour to reach the scenic island on boat from the national park, Acharya stated. “We strive to ensure safe and comfortable sojourn of visitors who throng here in large numbers every year to savour the warmth of the wetlands,” he added.