Odisha Proposes State’s Second Biosphere Reserve
The Odisha government has proposed a second biosphere reserve in the southern part of the state at Mahendragiri.
- The 5,569-square kilometre Similipal Biosphere Reserve is Odisha’s first such reserve and was notified May 20, 1996.
- The hill ecosystem acts as a transitional zone between the flora and fauna of southern India and the Himalayas.
- Mahendragiri is inhabited by the Soura people, a particularly vulnerable tribal group as well as the Kandha tribe.
- The hills have diverse vegetation.
- The rich flora in Mahendragiri represents 40 per cent of the reported flora of Odisha, with around 1,358 species of plants.
- Twenty-nine of the 41 species of threatened medicinal plants found in Odisha according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature are found in the biosphere reserve area.
Similipal Biosphere Reserve
- The Similipal Biosphere Reserve lies within two biogeographical regions: the Mahanadian east coastal region of the Oriental realm and the Chhotanagpur biotic province of the Deccan peninsular zone.
- Volcanic sedimentary rocks are aligned in three concentric rings and accentuate the area’s geologic formations.
- The highest peak in the Similipal hill range is Khairiburu (1,168 metres). Numerous waterfalls and perennial streams flow into major rivers, such as the Budhabalang, Baitarani and Subarnarekha.
- The biosphere reserve has the largest zone of Sal in all of India.
- Altogether, the biosphere reserve is home to 42 mammal species, 264 bird species, 39 reptile species and 12 amphibian species. Moreover, approximately 52 fauna species are endangered.
- Paradoxus jorandensis is an example of a valuable and endemic fauna species within the area.
- Altogether, 1,265 villages are located within the biosphere reserve. Approximately 73% of all inhabitants are Aboriginals.
- Two tribes, the Erenga Kharias and the Mankirdias, inhabit the reserve’s forests and practise traditional agricultural activities.
- Mahendragiri was the cradle land of the early civilization of Kalinga.
- The mythology refers to the Mahendra as a sacred place being one of the seven Kulagiris or seven principal chains of mountains in India.
- The seven mountains designate the seven ancient doors of heaven.
- The six other Kulagiris or Kulaparbats are Malaya, Sahyadri, Parijatra, Shuktiman, Vindya and Malyavaan.
- The puranic or mythological literature attach great sanctity to this place being the seat of Parasurama’s penance and sacred land for pinda dana.
- The hill complex is the natural habitat of the tribes including the primitive Lanjia saura, Sudha saura and Bhima saura.
- The other tribes include Kondh, Gond, Santal and Kolh.
- Their livelihood security is intricately linked to the biodiversity and other local natural resources of the hill complex.
- The watershed of Mahendragiri hill complex drains into Rushikulya, Vamsadhara, Bahuda river systems and numerous big and small streams.
Chilika Was A Part Of The Bay Of Bengal: Study
- According to a study by the marine archaeology department of the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), Chilika lake in Odisha was once part of the Bay of Bengal.
- Chilika lake is the Asia’s largest brackish water lake.
- The process of the formation of the Chilika might have begun in the later part of the Pleistocene epoch, around 20,000 years ago.
- India’s peninsular river Mahanadi carried a heavy load of silt and dumped part of it at its delta. As the sediment-laden river met the Bay of Bengal, sand bars were formed near its mouth.
- These created a backflow of the sea water into the sluggish fresh water at the estuary, resulting in the huge brackish water lake.
- The lake has been a useful centre for maritime activities since the third millennium before the Common Era (CE).
- Today, the Chilika is 64 kilometres long in the north-south direction and 13.5 km wide in the east-west direction.
- The lake had become shallower with the passage of time due to the deposition of sediments brought by the Mahanadi as outflow from the lake was restricted.