With an annual footfall of about 10 million foreign tourists, eco-tourism is the future of sustainable tourism in India.

An aesthetic village named Muduligadia in Nayagarh district, Odisha, has won the medal of honour for many reasons listed below. It is the first village in Odisha that has played a vital role in taking eco-tourism in the area to a higher notch. 

So, what is an eco-tourism and an eco-village?

Eco-Tourism means responsible travel to natural areas that conserve the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people and involves interpretation and education. 

While, eco-village means essentially designed communities intending to be socially, economically and ecologically sustainable.

Under the able guidance of Anshu Pragyan Das, an officer of Mahanadi wildlife division, Muduligadia has transformed itself into an eco-village attracting eco-tourism activities in the area. 

How did it all start for Muduligadia?

Muduligadia is at a distance of about 2 kilometres from the site of Badmul Ecotourism Project titled Satkosia Sands Resort & Nature Camp (‘Project’). 

It all started in the year 2016 when less than 5 tents were established on the banks of the Mahanadi river. Around this time the local community reached out to the local forest division for assistance. Based on the guidance, the villagers adopted the transformational business model serving the dual purpose of conserving the natural environment of Muduligadia and therefrom generating revenue for the locals. 

To date, the number of tents has increased to about 20, providing employment to the localites. The villagers are employed in different activities associated with the Project. The entire transformation of the Project, as well as Muduligadia, is done by the villagers themselves. Their grit and determination deserves an applause and is the sole reason for this incredible achievement. 

According to sources, Satkosia Sands Resort became the second most visited destination after Similipal with more than 4,500 footfall during the last financial year.

Houses in Muduligadia

What is so different about this revenue model?

This Odisha based model of eco-tourism is one of the unique models in the country where the entire revenue generated goes to the community. This revenue model is banking money for the villagers making them self-reliant. 

The silver lining is that the entire Project has bagged around Rs. 2 crores in the last two years. Each household associated with the Project is earning on an average Rs. 15,000 per month every year. This is a deal-breaker for the people involved and a motivation for others to join in.

Transformational takeaways from Muduligadia 

No Litter Policy – The villagers have voluntarily adopted the No Litter Policy. To attain this objective there are dustbins installed at designated places all through the village. Earlier due to lack of awareness everyone used to dump the garbage either outside the house or in the Mahanadi river leading to various types of pollution. 

Plastic-free village – Due to awareness and comprehending the hazardous impact of plastic, the localites have pledged to make their village 100% plastic-free. The disciplined approach and strict obeisance to the No Litter Policy has set a ground for the same.

LPG use to curb air pollution – All households in the village have been using LPG gas instead of firewood for the past 3 years leading to cleaner fresher air. Also, this is the reason for no outbreak of forest fire over the past few years.

Organic Farming – The villagers are introduced to the concept of organic farming and its long term impact on the fertility of the land and their health. Ergo, they have turned towards organic farming.

No poaching – There is also an on-going initiative promoting zero poaching in the area.

Setting a tone for women empowerment in rural India

There is a given assumption that the villages have a backward life clung to primitive belief systems. One of the biggest thorns being no women empowerment. Muduligadia is an exception even here.

The women in the village were earlier restricted to household chores. Now, they’re actively working in transforming the village, managing eco-tourism activities, guiding the tourists, painting the walls, etc. The women with minimal or nil academic background are also inducted as a member of the Eco-Development Committee. Their views are heard and implemented giving them a sense of importance in the overall patriarchal system. All this has resulted into concrete women empowerment in the area.

The community behind the success of Muduligadia

What the future looks like?

It had just started for the villagers when their home was frequented by tourists from across the world who appreciated their work and efforts. But coronavirus pandemic and its unprecedented impact has halted all activities in Muduligadia. The villagers are on an anxiety roller coaster hoping to see the tourists soon enough. 

But once normalcy is restored the eco-tourism is going to see new heights setting an example for other villages in the country. 

Irrespective of anything else, this marvel piece of eco-tourism requires a hoot and a long appreciation speech. Cheers to the villagers of Muduligadia.