Executive Summary Of Chilika Lake

Chilika Lake is situated on the east coast of India between 19° 28’ and 19° 54’ North latitude and 85° 05’ and 85° 38’ East longitudes. It extends from the Southwest corner of Puri and Khurda districts to the adjoining Ganjam District of Odisha State.

Executive Summary

Chilika Lake is situated on the east coast of India between 19° 28’ and 19° 54’ North latitude and 85° 05’ and 85° 38’ East longitudes. It extends from the Southwest corner of Puri and Khurda districts to the adjoining Ganjam District of Odisha State. It is one of the largest brackish water lakes in Asia with estuarine character. The water spread area of the Lake varies between 1165 and 906 sq. km during the monsoon and summer respectively. The Lake can be broadly divided into four ecological sectors based on salinity and depth, the southern sector, the central sector, the northern sector, and the outer channel. It is the largest wintering ground for migratory waterfowl on the Indian subcontinent. It is one of the hot spots of biodiversity and good habitat for some rare, vulnerable, and endangered species listed in the IUCN Red List of threatened animals. This list includes several rare, threatened, and endangered species such as the Irrawaddy dolphin, and endemic species like Barakudia insularis (limbless skink ) which is not found anywhere in the world. The Lake is a highly productive ecosystem and the rich fishery resources (336 fish species) support the livelihood of more than 2, 00,000 fisher folk who live in and around the Lake. Chilika has 884 plant species.

The Nalabana Island inside the Lake, which spreads over an area of 15.53 sq. km., is notified as a Wildlife Sanctuary. This island is an abode of the avifauna and is an important wintering ground for a large number of migratory birds. The avifauna of Chilika is diverse and includes 228 species of birds belonging to 26 families. The migratory species are predominated by 22 species of ducks and geese, 52 species of plovers and sandpipers, and 14 species of gulls and terns. As per the 2023 Bird Census, a total number of 11,37,759 birds visited Chilika which includes both Migratory and residential birds of 187 nos. of species.

Based on its rich biodiversity and socio-economic importance, Chilika Lake was designated as a Ramsar Site (wetland of international importance) in 1981. It is also included in the list of wetlands of National importance, for intensive conservation and management by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India. Chilika has been subjected to constant pressures from both natural and anthropogenic factors.

The major management problems the lake was facing had been; siltation (Average 8.00 lakh Metric Tonne of sediment discharge into the lake from both Mahanadi and Western catchments annually), changes in salinity gradient, increase in invasive species, Uncontrolled Tourism, Destructive fishing practices like catching the fish juveniles near Chilika inlets, use of zero nets and aquaculture activities, resulting in loss of productivity and biodiversity. Shifting of the Chilika inlets due to longshore transport. Proliferation of Water Hyacinths (Raja Dala) and also Nala grass mostly in the northern part of the lake. The degradation of the Lake’s ecosystem resulted in a change in its ecological characteristics. Chilika was included in the Montreux Record (threatened list of Ramsar sites) in 1993 by the Ramsar Secretariat due to a change in its ecological characteristics. Chilika Development Authority (CDA) was created by the Govt. of Odisha to address the above management issues.

Concerned over the rapid decline of the Chilika Lake ecosystem, the Government of Odisha created the Chilika Development Authority (CDA) to undertake measures for the protection of the ecosystem through scientific intervention research, collaboration, and networking. Chilika Development Authority (CDA) was constituted vide resolution No.20369/F&E dated 20.11.91 under the administrative control of the Forests & Environment Department, Government of Odisha with the Chief Minister as the Chairman of the Authority.

CDA was registered under the Registration of Societies Act, 1860 vide Regd No. 19257/57/1991-92 dated 28.01.1992, with a memorandum of Association and rules and regulations. The basic mandate of CDA is the restoration and sustainable management of Chilika Lake with all its genetic diversity. The broad objectives of this Authority include;

  • To protect the Lake ecosystem with all its genetic diversity.
  • To execute various multidimensional developmental activities either itself or through some other agency to enhance the economic condition of the community.
  • To survey, plan, and prepare the project proposal for integrated resource management for all-round development in and around the Lake.
  • To co-operate and collaborate with other institutions of the States, National and International institutions for the all-round development of the Lake.
  • To establish a management information system for the Lake.
  • To promote long-term multidisciplinary research, prepare environment status reports, and establish an education Center for the Lake.

The restoration measures were taken with the special problem grant received (27 Crores) as per the recommendation of the 10th Finance Commission (1996-97 to 1999-2000).

For the continuation of the restoration of the Lake, an amount of Rs 30.00 Crores was received as the Special Problem grant as per the recommendation of the 11th Finance Commission (2001-02 to 2004-05).

For consolidation of the activities carried out with the special problem grants as per the recommendations of the 11th Finance Commission, an amount of Rs 30.00 Crores was received as the Special Problem grant as per the recommendation of the 12th Finance Commission (2006-07 to 2009-10).

For consolidation and strengthening of the eco-restoration of Chilika lagoon an amount of Rs. 50.00 crores were received as a special problem grant as per the recommendation of the 13th Finance Commission (2011-12 to 2014-15). The following activities have been taken up from the fund received from the Finance Commission.

Sl.No. Component
1 Participatory Management of Watershed & Catchment Treatment
2 Improvement of Water Exchange and Salinity Gradient by Desiltation.
3 Biodiversity Conservation
4 Fishery Resource Development
5 Wetland Research, Training, Monitoring & Assessment.
6 Socio-economic Improvement
7 Outreach Programme

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Key management strategies to be adopted include:

  1. Ensuring hydrological connectivity of Chilika with freshwater and coastal processes at basin level.
  2. Establishing hierarchical and multiscale inventory of hydrological, ecological, socioeconomic and institutional features to support management planning and decision making.
  3. Environmental flows as the basis for water allocation for conservation and developmental activities.
  4. Biodiversity conservation through habitat improvement of endangered and indigenous species.
  5. Ecotourism development for enhancing awareness, income generation, and livelihood diversification with active participation of local communities.
  6. Poverty reduction through sustainable resource development and responsible resource utilization.
  7. Formation of multi-stakeholder groups for planning, implementation, and monitoring of MAP and conflict resolution.
  8. Strengthening CDA with adequate legal and administrative powers.
  9. Capacity building at all levels for technical and managerial skills.
  10. Result-oriented monitoring and evaluation of activity, outcome, and impact levels.
  11. Bridging the knowledge gap essential for sustainable management of the Lake.