Authorities of the Bhitarkanika National Park, which reopens for visitors from today, have effected a manifold hike in lodging, a move that is likely to pinch the middle class and lower middle class visitors.
Nature lovers who long for savouring the warmth of congenial wetland spots in Bhitarkanika in Kendrapara district would now have to take care of their purse.
Visiting the mangrove-infested sites with a shoe-string budget has now become a thing of past.
Divisional forest officer Manoj Kumar Mahapatra said the park had remained closed for tourists between May 31 and July 13 in view of the nesting season of estuarine crocodiles.
The accommodation price runs to five times more than what it were. It has gone beyond the affordability of middle class tourists, said local tourist operator Pradeep Das.
For a nights stay in new cottage, one has to cough up Rs 750 while it stood at lowly Rs 150 earlier. The Banni suite would now cost Rs 1,000 as against the preceding price tag of Rs 200 only. The stay in round cabin has shot up more than seven times. From Rs 200, it has climbed up to Rs 1,500.
The six-bedded dormitory was earlier priced Rs 600 a day while it would now cost Rs 1000. For stay in Gupti tourism cottage, the rate revised to Rs 1000 against the earlier range of Rs 250, said officials.
Moreover, the tourists, who spend the night at Bhitarkanika, will have to pay Rs 100 cess towards eco-development fees. However, Rs 10 as the entry fee for a tourist remains unchanged.
However, a forest official said the revision of lodging and boarding charges was necessary. â€œThe hike had to be made for better maintenance of the government-owned bungalows,â€ said the divisional forest officer.
Though staying at Bhitarkanika has been made costlier, it is still on the lower side in comparison to accommodation charges in private-run eco-tourist cottages, the DFO said.
Visitors need to carry their identity proof to gain access to the park. One has to produce the identity proof to get the entry permit.
The national Park spread over 145 sq km area covers Bhitarkanika Mangroves. It is a Mangrove swamp located in the delta of rivers Brahmani, Baitarani and Dhamara and ideal for camping, trekking and picnics.