Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik described Chilka as “a pilgrimage for over a million winged visitors of varied species, which undertake flights to the mighty but calm Chilika – Asia’s largest brackish water lake” as he inaugurated the Chilika Bird Festival today.

The festival is yet another effort of Odisha Tourism and Ecotour Odisha to add another feather in Odisha’s hat – a soaring birding hub, he said.

The three-day programme witnessed the participation of 55 selected birders representing nine states – Maharashtra, Karnataka, Delhi, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and West Bengal, besides Odisha.

Chief secretary S K Mohapatra, said, “Chilika’s Mangalajodi is a pioneering work in community-led conservation. It is an unparalleled birding destination”.

This year’s census has revealed a total count of 11.42 lakh birds across over 190 species at Chilka.

OTDC Chairperson Shreemayee Mishra applauded Odisha Tourism while PCCF and Chief Wildlife Warden, Odisha, Dr. HS Upadhyay highlighted the wonders of Chilka. Additional Chief Secretary, Forest & Environment, Mona Sharma, Ministers Jyoti Prakash Panigrahi, Bikram Arukha, CDA chief executive Susanta Nanda, former PCCF Ajit Pattnaik, Dr. S. Balachandran, senior scientist and Dy. Director of Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), avid birder Mr. Arpit Deomurari addressed the inaugural function. Elaborating the strategic agenda of Odisha Tourism, Principal Secretary Tourism, Vishal Dev, IAS said, “we jointly strive to double the capacity of Ecotour Odisha accommodations to 600. Eco Retreat Odisha – Eastern India’s foremost glamping festival while Director Tourism,. Sachin Jadhav informed “Eight states’ representation makes the 3rd National Chilika Bird Festival a grand success. Next year we will soar higher, with foreign participants joining in large numbers.”