With COVID-19 cases on the decline in the state, the focus has shifted to livelihood and revenue augmentation. Tourism is being looked upon as a major area with potential for revenue generation and the government is keen to explore new opportunities in this field. The latest move of the Odisha government on this front is to develop land adjacent to big dams for setting up museums and other kinds of tourism-cum-educational facilities. A proposal in this regard was discussed at a high-level meeting chaired by chief secretary Suresh Chandra Mahapatra recently.
If sources in the government are to be believed, directions have already issued to officials to start looking for sites and plan for the development of these areas into education-cum-recreation spots with museums, audio-visual shows, guided tours, boating and camping facilities. Big dams, according to officials, are not only scenic spots but they also attract people because they are considered to be engineering marvels. People can plan pleasure trips to these places and children can also learn through them.
Nature tourism has always been a big draw in Odisha which is richly endowed with natural beauty. The state is full of excellent beaches, wildlife sanctuaries and waterfalls. Efforts are already being made to develop good eco-tourism sites in the state with facilities like walking trails and bird watching for visiting tourists. The Chilika lake, especially the Mangaljodi area of the lake which is frequented by exotic birds, has emerged as a major destination. The government is also keen to create better tourist facilities within its wildlife sanctuaries and efforts are also being made to beautify waterfalls like Dumduma and Khandadhar to attract visitors from within the state and outside.
The focus has rightly shifted to this area, as traditional tourist spots of the state like Puri and Konark have only a limited degree of attraction for tourists who are looking for variety. There is an urgent need to open new vistas of tourism by exploring new sites and creating the right kind of facilities there. Even ethnic tourism is slowly beginning to lose its charm because of the difficulties involved in organizing trips to remote tribal hamlets.
Hence, the move to develop the area around big dams into tourist sites is a brilliant idea. The plan is not only to beautify these places but also set up facilities like museums to help the learning process of curious students. They can be taught about different utilities of a dam including its eco-system and the process of irrigation and power generation. This will be an added incentive apart from the beauty of the place that they can enjoy.
If sources are to be believed, the government might begin with sites like Lower Indra and Indravati dams in Kalahandi district, Salia dam in Khurda, Upper Jonk (Patara dam) in Nuapada, Upper Kolab in Koraput, Samal Barrage in Angul and Balimela in Malkangiri. If successful it will boost tourism in a big way.