Pune : An Oceanarium project is being planned in Sindhudurg district in Maharashtra with a view to promote marine conservation and giving a boost to state tourism and regional economy of coastal Konkan.
   
The Rs 509 core project conceived by Science and Technology Park (SATP) at Pune University which has prepared the techno feasibility report, has identified Tondawadi in Sindhudurg for the country's first Oceanarium, according to Rajiv Jagdale, director, SATP.
   
"Saline water will be pumped out from deeper sea level to cultivate marine culture at the proposed Ocenarium which will be spread across 200 acres of land and creeks at Tondawadi in the project aimed at creating conservation awareness and combining it with entertainment", he said.

The SATP which is an autonomous body under Ministry of Science and Technology, expects the work on the proposed Ocenarium to start by September next with a time frame of three years for completion of the project to be implemented with involvement of international experts.

The ambitious project is expected to give a big boost to tourism in Maharashtra handled through the State Tourism development corporation.

"The venture should be seen as an eco-friendly developmental option for the coastal Konkan and we expect the Ocenarium to fetch around 35 lakh tourists in the region", said Jagdale who has recently got a clearance for the project from Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan.

The Ocenarium will be given effect by creating a simulated sea along that of a real lake and virgin beaches.

A 3-D dome and theatre as also an underwater studio for film shooting will be other salient features of the proposed recreation destination.

The Centre and Maharashtra governments are expected to provide Rs 100 crore each and the rest of the funding amounting to around Rs 300 crore would be channelised through private investors, Jagdale said.

"We will not be disturbing sea or agriculture land for the project which would be completed in keeping with environmental norms and wildlife protection act. Saline water to be pumped out of sea will be filtered and cleaned to sustain certain species of marine life," he said.

The SATP which studied sites for environmental feasibility in three districts of coastal Konkan ---- Sindhudurg, Ratnagiri and Raigad--- finally selected Tondawadi in Sindhudurg as the other options offered less diversity of attractions in their periphery coupled with barrier of villages and existing resorts.
   
"Global expertise is being hired for the proposed ocenarium which will conform to international standards and norms," Jagdale noted.

"Visiting sea beaches need not be just taking a dip in sea water or relaxing on the silvery sands. It can also be an opportunity to know and understand marine life and its conservation," he said.

(Agencies)