Nayagarh, March 29 (LocalWire) A modest ecotourism project in Odisha’s picturesque Badmul village is today a shining example of community collaboration and changing fortunes of people — from poverty to wealth and power.
Launched in 2016 on the banks of river Mahanadi in Nayagarh, the project saw a rapid growth, from modest revenue of Rs.27 lakhs in the first year to a whopping income of Rs.1.30 crore in 2018-19.
The Satkosia Sands Resort and Nature Camp has firmly put Nayagarh in the country’s tourism map.
Besides Indian tourists, visitors from Germany, France, Britain and other countries visit this beautiful resort, which has nine tents and seven cottages overlooking the mighty Satkosia Gorge.
Last year alone, it attracted 3,000 visitors, while 20% of them were foreigners.
Not many people had known Badmul in Satkosia Tiger Reserve in the recent past. Now, it’s turning out to be Nayagarh’s best kept secrets.
The forest department had launched the resort to help locals earn a livelihood. Now, each family earns around Rs. 2 lakh annually from the project.
Some 5-6 neighbouring villages get direct livelihood opportunities from the resort, said Anshu Pragyan Das, deputy conservator of forests, ecotourism.
Today, Badmul ecotourism is not just a livelihood project but also a conservation success story.
Earlier, locals used to hunt wild animals for a living. Now, that has changed, said Das.
As a result, frequent forest-fires and poaching have significantly reduced, which are the worst enemies of wildlife conservation.
Poachers now have turned into protectors of Satkosia wildlife. They guide tourists during nature treks, , Das added.
Besides poaching, illegal sand mining and fishing have also stopped after the villagers have realised that conserving the habitat is in their best interests, Das said.
Odisha has a huge potential for tourism. Tourism sites like Similipal, Satkosia, Bhitarkanika, Chilika, Phulbani and Koraput already see a huge footfall of tourists every year.
Currently, there’re 40 community-managed nature resorts in different parts of the state which has earned over Rs.5.6 crore in 2018-19.