Chilika Lake

Chilika Lake is the largest lagoon in India that lies on Bay of Bengal. It was designated as a Ramsar Site in 1981 and it is famous for its biodiversity, e.g. migratory waterfowl and Irawadee Dolphin. There are 132 fishing villages around the lake, in which about 70% of 150,000 people live by fishing. However, after the 1980's, due to the soil erosion caused by deforestation in the upper stream, the lake became shallower, and the mouth of the lake became smaller. It made the water fresh, and it lead to a dramatic decrease of fish catch, which caused a serious social problem.

Orissa state government founded Chilika Development Authority (CDA) for the purpose of scientific survey and conservation of the lagoon. They opened a new artificial mouth in the year 2000. Pallishree, a local NGO in Orissa in collaboration with RCJ is organizing a project which title is Environmental Awareness And Education for Stakeholoders of Chilika Lagoon, with the support of Japan Fund for Global Environment (JFGE) of Japan Environment Corporation.

Chilika Lake



19K28-54' N
85K06'-38' E
Orissa, India
coast of bay of Bengal

@96,000ha(dry season)
116,500ha(rainy season)

There are lots of islands in the lagoon. You can see a flock of flamingos in this picture. Many European bird watchers visit Chilika for its incredible number of migrants that reaches 1 million a year.
The new mouth opened in September 2000 now takes in seawater from the Bay of Bengal. Chilika recovered the moderate concentration of salt, and the amount of fish catch showed a remarkable increase.
You can normally see the traditional fishing style like this everywhere in the lake.
Prawn and mud crab is the major product of this lake.
Centre for Environmental Awareness & Education (CEAE), which is under construction by Pallishree. CEAEs are built in every 4 villages as a stronghold of environmental education in the local communities.
Environmental Awareness Campaign in January 2002 had many local participants. Children are playing a drama on their life in Chilika in this picture.
Photo and text by Aya Yonezawa