Eco-tourism destination in Odisha ravaged by tidal waves

Cyclone Fani has taken a huge toll on Odisha by wreaking havoc on the infrastructure of the state.

The unmanned Habelikahti Island at Bhitarkanika National Park in Kendrapara district, a favourite eco-tourism destination, has been ravaged by mighty tidal waves during cyclone Fani, forest officials said.

Cyclone Fani that made landfall near Puri on May 3, however, spared the rest sheds for tourists at the island, they said.

But a day later, on May 4, 10-foot high tidal waves shattered the seaside island, the Divisional Forest Officer of Rajnagar Mangrove (wildlife) Forest Division, Bimal Prasanna Acharya, said.

Four guest houses located near the sea bore the brunt of the furious tidal waves. The eco-tourism complex was further damaged with cracks developing in the structures due to the impact of the marauding sea waves, Acharya said.

The rest sheds for tourists have been shut down owing to safety reasons. As the warning was sounded on the cyclone and possible ingress of tidal waves, the forest employees on duty were asked to vacate the island. Most of the green cover has also been wiped out by the tidal waves, the official added.

Habelikhati Island is an unmanned territory in the Bay of Bengal off Odisha coast. The gorgeous beach of the island has emerged as a nesting ground of endangered Olive Ridley sea turtles. One could come across the breath-taking sight of turtles invading the beach en masse to lay eggs by digging pits with their flippers.

The turtles could be sighted at the place during February-March when the creatures turn up for their annual sojourn, the DFO said.

Besides, the island is also an ideal spot for sighting gangetic dolphins. The green cover bordering the island is home to wild boars, jungle cats, fishing cats, hyenas, sambar, striped palm squirrel and water monitors, the wildlife official said.