Muduligadia, a nondescript village in Nayagarh district, has earned the prominence of the first eco-village of the state. Located on the bank of Mahanadi river adjoining Satkosia gorge, villagers here have set an example of conserving the natural environment through a business model.
Anshu Pragyan Das, the Divisional Forest Officer of Mahanadi Wildlife Division has made Muduligadia self-sustainable by initiating an eco-tourism project in the village.
Odisha’s model of eco-tourism is one of the unique models in the country where entire revenue generated from eco-tourism projects goes to the community as their wages and rest get dug back for the management of nature camps.
Anshu Pragyan Das with her commitment and determination made it possible. The eco-tourism project was initially started back in 2018 with two proposes helping the locals earn a livelihood, and enhancing forest conservation efforts.
All houses in the village have been repaired with colourful verandahs and traditional wall paintings done by villagers to make them attractive. Villagers have formed Eco-Development Committee (EDC) and developed a mechanism to make the project self-sustained.
Ashu stated to The Better India that “The committee from the village approached me, seeking my advice on how to invest in developing their village. That’s when the idea of an eco-village crossed my mind,”
Trees and roads are decorated for welcoming tourists and residents have developed a common worship place. All 35 households in the village have been using LPG gas instead of firewood.
The lifestyle of villagers has improved a lot, because of the ecotourism project which is not only providing employment but also changing the lives of communities dependent on the forest.
She further explained that “The eco-tourism spots began generating considerable revenue for the locals, and they gradually became less dependent on forest products for earning their livelihood. The Odisha model of eco-tourism is the only existing community-based model in India, where over 80 per cent of the entire tourism revenue is returned to the community as wages, while the remaining 20 per cent is invested for maintenance, upkeep, and up-gradation of the tourist spots,”.
Each household is earning an average of Rs 15,000 per month every year. Their lives have been remodelled from collecting and selling forest produce for livelihood to devising and maintaining the eco-tourism property. Women are also actively engaging in the management of the project.
Article Written By Dikhya Mohanty
Image Source: Google