Boat Library For Children Set Up In Odishas Bhitarkanika National Forest, Aims To Encourage Environment Conservation

Image Credit-Twitter/ @jd_pati

The Logical Indian Crew

Boat Library For Children Set Up In Odisha's Bhitarkanika National Forest, Aims To Encourage Environment Conservation

The library commenced on June 5, World Environment Day, and houses over 1,500 books for different age groups, funded by the Bhitarkanika Eco-Tourism and Eco-Development Society (BEEDS), a government-run organisation.

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Adding to its popularity, Odisha's Bhitarkanika National Forest, India's second-largest Mangrove Wetland, now has a boat library, which was set up on June 5 this year on World Environment Day, in a stationary boat at its gateway, Dangamal.

The new attraction is situated at the eco-tourism complex and would encourage local students and children of tourists to learn more about environmental conservation.

Functioning Of The Library

J D Pati, the Bhitarkanika Divisional Forest Officer, said, "the aim of the library is to connect children and youth to nature and sensitise them about conservation," as reported by Orissa Post.

Pati was one of the brains behind the project, and he credits the inspiration for the library was drawn from commitment and support from the locals for mangrove conservation.

The officer added, "To commemorate their efforts and to build the capacity of the next generation, we felt the requirement of a dedicated platform where data, books, and documents can be shared with youngsters to motivate them for mangrove and wetland conservation."

He credits the conceptualisation and good response to the forest division officers, which include his wife. As the national park is closed for tourists from May 1 to July 31 every year, for the mating of the saltwater crocodiles, children from a couple of local schools will be allowed to visit the boat library.

The library will be open on all days of the summer vacation, and the students of the school will be allowed to visit on Sundays. Further, the forest officer said there are also plans to hold drawing competitions for the schools in the locality besides awareness building.

Over 1,500 Books Available

The boat's hull was revamped to create a room, which was then retrofitted for the library. Stairs have also been made to reach the library room from the ground. Over 1,500 books are available for the visitors, funded by the Bhitarkanika Eco-Tourism and Eco-Development Society (BEEDS), a government-run organisation.

The arrangement of the books and interiors has been planned extensively. A single room with brightly coloured walls with motifs to attract children and over 30 compartments with shelves so that the books are easy to find. Pati added that they would ask for donations for more books if they have enough responses.

There are picture books in all the languages spoken in Odisha, along with card games on the lowest shelves for children below the age of five. Above it are the folk tales, biographies, and short stories for kids below ten years, and above that are the heavier books on nature, encyclopedias, atlas, science projects, conservation guides, etc. for kids below 15 years of age. On the top shelves are books on wildlife conservation, ecology, mangroves, and even government publications and brochures on eco-conservation.

Appreciation From Locals

The students and teachers of Naga Narayan Government High School in Rajnagar inside Bhitarkanika, who are residents of three nearby gram panchayats, were extremely happy, with one ninth-standard student saying that it was "fun to be in a library in a boat," as reported by The Indian Express.

The school's science teacher, Omprakash Bari, also appreciated the effort, saying that it will help create interest and awareness of the ecosystem, ecology, wildlife, and the vital aspect of livelihood.

Bari is a committee member of the economic development of the village and forest division. He is also a 'Wetland Mitra' from a volunteer organisation that helps facilitate preservation and wetland conservation under a central government project. The Bhitarkanika Mangrove Forest was designated a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance in 2002.

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Writer : Shiva Chaudhary
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Editor : Snehadri Sarkar
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Creatives : Shiva Chaudhary