A joint team of the ONGC and Unesco has carried out a preliminary survey for the conservation of Chilika Lake to help the country’s largest coastal lagoon secure the world heritage site tag, said an official on Wednesday.
“With the objective to declare Chilika Lake as a Unesco World Heritage Site, both Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Ltd (ONGC) and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) will work together,” said Shigeru Aoyagi, Unesco Chief Representative to Bhutan, India, Maldives and Sri Lanka.
“In order to get world heritage site recognition, it should have outstanding global value in terms of biodiversity and eco-system. The state government has assured us to provide full support to conserve the lake,” he added.
During their visit to the periphery areas of the lake, they interacted with various stakeholders in the village and local officials, where certain focal areas were identified to begin with, so that the efforts could finally lead to the declaration of Chilika Lake as a heritage site.
They also met Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, who appreciated the ONGC-Unesco efforts for the comprehensive development of the eco-system of the lake, particularly the wetlands of Mangalajodi, which is intrinsically linked to the conservation of migratory and endemic birds.
Shigeru Aoyagi assured that he would put in his best efforts to enable the declaration of Chilika Lake as an Unesco World Heritage Site.
He said a comprehensive dossier with a detailed development plan of the ecosystem, including that of the inhabitants, by involving various central and state government ministries would be prepared.
ONGC Director D.D. Misra said the company would carry out a comprehensive conservation and development plan in and around the lake area.
He said the Unesco had also proposed to set up a world class conservation centre with a climate change observatory with state-of-the-art data and monitoring facilities.