“We are planning to accord World Heritage Site status to Bhitarkanika National Park and Chilika Lake. Both the sites have unique features to get the tag,” S.S. Srivastava, principal chief conservator of forest (wildlife), told.
Srivastava, however, said they are presently focusing on acquiring the coveted status for Bhitarkanika park located in Kendrapada district.
The famous Konark Sun Temple is the only site from the state to have been accorded World Heritage Site status which it was accorded in 1984.
He said the forest department has already signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Wildlife Institute of India to carry out a study and compilation of a comprehensive bio-diversity dossier of the national park for nomination for the Unesco World Heritage List.
“They have already visited the site and would visit the site in the coming days for further study. They would gather ground-level information on bio-diversity, eco-system and local human habitation and socio-economic condition of locals during the study,” said Srivastava.
The government has earmarked Rs.28 lakh for the study.
The national park is currently under the scrutiny of Unesco to ascertain whether it deserves the status of world heritage site.
“Once the information is gathered, we will send to the central government to take further steps to get the status from Unesco,” he said.
Bhitarkanika is a unique habitat of Mangrove forests criss-crossed with numerous creeks and mud flats. One of the largest Mangrove eco-systems in India, Bhitarkanika is home to diverse flora and fauna.
Besides, If Chilika is given the coveted status, it would be the first lake in the country to be declared as a World Heritage Site and would stand equal to lake Baikal in Russia and lake Willandra in Australia, sources added. (IANS)