Chilika – Jewel of Odisha
The 1000 sq. km Chilika Lake in the state of Odisha on India’s East Coast is also the largest brackish water lagoon in Asia. It is the largest wintering ground for waterfowl in the Indian subcontinent, attracting migrants from Europe, Central Asia and Siberia. Over 200,000 people are dependent on the lake for their livelihoods. Chilika is home to the highly endangered Irrawady dolphin, and is also rich in other forms of biodiversity. In 1981 it was designated as India’s first Ramsar Site. However, by the late 1990s it was considered a weed-infested, dying lake. Today, thanks to ecological restoration by the Odisha government, it is once again a reliable source of livelihood for local communities and a vibrant refuge for wildlife.