Published on : Tuesday, January 19, 2021
A dolphin jumps out of the salty waters of Odisha’s famous Chilika Lake and is a treat for the eyes on a boat on the lagoon. After few seconds, several pairs of eyes again yearn for a glimpse of the well-known Irrawaddy dolphins doing hide-and seek on the silver waters.
With the Sun maintaining rapidity with the boat’s speed, some migratory birds together with white-bellied sea eagles, seagulls and kingfishers try to divert attention from the lake. For Vibhu, the 44-year-old boatman on the Chilika lagoon from Satapada, it’s a regular evening which means that a good day in terms of tourist footfall would fetch him more money to feed his family of 10.
Living in a joint family, life for people like him has not been easy amid the Covid times. The Chilika Lake was closed during the worst phase of the pandemic for tourists forcing boatmen and local fishers to pick up alternative professions for a brief period. “Now that the lake has reopened for tourists, we are expecting a good season. Tourists have started visiting too and we wish the number would increase in the days ahead. We are dependent on the beauty of this eco-system in Chilika Lake to attract tourists specially the Irrawaddy dolphins which is one of the major attractions,” Vibhu said.
Vibhu said that he also drives the boat of the fishermen when business is low in terms of tourists. Another boatman Lakhwinder said, “We go to the lake by serial number. The number of rounds we make in the lake is directly proportional to the footfall in Chilika. We expect that with time more people would visit.”