The National Institute of Oceanography, the Gujarat forest department, the Wildlife Trust of India and Tata Chemicals have joined hands for setting up the country's first 'coral garden' at Mithapur coastal region of Devbhoomi-Dwarka district of Gujarat.
Funded by Tata Chemicals, with a corpus of Rs2 crore, the conservation project will involve other marine experts from the national and international arena in an attempt to conserve several coral species at one place and to boost tourism in the state.
"We will set up country's first coral garden at Mithapur coast which will conserve coral species. Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) and Tata Chemicals Limited (TCL) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to set up the first of its kind coral garden," senior advisor to WTI, B C Choudhury said.
The project will also get funds from the Gujarat forest department as WTI has signed a broader MoU with the state also, said Choudhury.
Choudhury, who conceptualised the project in 2006, said WTI got success in the initial experiments for conservation of the coral species and that the proposed site is fit for developing a coral garden.
WTI will also use the funds for research on whale shark and coral reef.
As per the project plan, the coral reef in Mithapur will be separated into various sections where almost all the coral species will be made available at one place.
"The 'Mithapur Coral Garden' will be one of its kind and it will house nearly all coral species found in Gulf of Kutch. Just as in a terrestrial botanical park or garden, the reef will be separated into various sections, based on accessibility," a report brought out by WTI and TCS, which contains the proposed plan of the Mithapur Coral Garden, said.
"The tidal pools are primarily targeted for the coral garden. Each pool will contain a variety of corals, and will give a special emphasis to the placement of different species. It would be useful not only for education and tourism, but also restoration of the reef," it said.
Tourists will be able to watch the beauty of corals as the authorities plan to have wading, snorkeling, diving, representative pool, jetty and boat anchoring areas in it, the report said.
"This is an opportunity to create the first coral garden in the country, which will have major role in the conservation by serving as the mother reef for new sites," WTI field officer of the Coral Reef Recovery Project S Subburaman said.
"This project run by Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) is in partnership with Gujarat Forest department and Tata Chemical Ltd. Tata is our funding agency," Subburaman said.
"Controlled and regulated tourism and diving can be allowed near coral gardens, ultimately helping in conservation awareness for common people," the report said.