The century old man-made Ousteri Lake - also referred to as Osudu Lake - is situated about 10 kms from Puducherry town and has been recognized as one of the important wetlands of Asia by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) and it is the most important freshwater lake in the Pondicherry region. The structure of the lake is complex - consisting of water, wetland/marsh and mudflats; it acts as the single largest catchment of fresh water in Puducherry.
The 390 hectares lake (part of it lies in Tamil Nadu) supports a variety of fauna and flora. The vegetation ranges from small herbs to trees, which supports migratory avifauna as well as native birds during summer and winter.
Ousteri Lake will be developed on the lines of Vedanthangal water bird sanctuary near Chennai. More than forty migratory birds reside throughout the year at the Ousteri Lake. According to the Tourism Department, different species of golden oriole, open-bill stork, tailor bird, painted stork, white ibis, white-breasted water-hen and spotted owlets visit the water-body particularly after November every year.
The forest department has decided to document the varieties of birds visiting Pondicherry to update and prepare a comprehensive database about the winger visitors. Under the government's renovation plan the region near the lake will be make litter-free so that it becomes favourable of the migratory birds.
The lake region will be declared as no-horn and plastic free zone. They will take care of the maintenance of the newly declared bird sanctuary. Sign boards with complete details of birds and eight feet by six feet multicolour paintings of birds will be set up at different places of the sanctuary. The department will also plant more tress near the water body. Apart from these, a three-floor interpretation centre with library and audiovisual room and a small park will also be established. The centre will enable visitors to attain complete information about the birds visiting the water body.
Two telescopes are also proposed to be set up at the top of the centre to watch the birds. The government has planned to develop the region as a complete eco-tourism tourist destination. The tourism department has proposed to ban motor boating and fishing in the lake. Instead, pedal boating is introduced for visitor's leisure. The best time to visit here is from October to March.
PTDC operates a small boat club at the lake. The 20-seater boats offer a 30min ride that allows visitors to enjoy the cool breeze and visual treats. If lucky, one could spot birds rarely seen in the region.
The government of Pondicherry is proposing to set up an Ousteri National Park in the region acquiring land from neighbouring villages.