Odisha to relocate 420 families from Debrigarh wildlife sanctuary in Bargarh district

The relocation will reduce human-animal conflicts and provide basic amenities like electricity, road and healthcare to the villagers

By Ashis Senapati
Published: Thursday 21 October 2021
Odisha to relocate 420 families from Debrigarh wildlife sanctuary in Bargarh district. Photo: Ashis Senapati

The wildlife wing of Odisha’s forest department decided to relocate around 420 families from four zero-connectivity villages in Debrigarh wildlife sanctuary, Bargarh district. The move is aimed to reduce man-animal conflict and provide better living conditions to the relocated families.

Villagers of Kurumakel, Bhutuli, Rengali and Lambipali have agreed to relocate from the forest to suitable locations near Lakhanpur and Tangarpali villages outside the sanctuary area, said Anshu Pragyan Das, divisional forest officer, Hirakud wildlife division.

“The relocation of the villagers is a part of our plan to create more space for the animals in the forest while also providing basic amenities to the villagers who are deprived of the same,” she added. 

At present, the villages lack road connectivity, means of livelihood, electricity, health facilities and education, according to the officer. The same will be provided to them in the rehabilitation colony, which will be in a residential area, according to the officer. 

The villagers expressed their consent in the Palli Sabha on August 12 and October 8, 2021, she added. “Nobody has  raised  any objection to moving out.  We have decided to work effectively to resettle the families with better facilities outside the sanctuary.”   

The families were displaced during the construction of the Hirakud dam in the 1950s and rehabilitated in these four villages within the Debrigarh sanctuary. Now, 70 years after their forefathers were relocated, the villagers are ready to move out of the forests, keeping their best interests in mind, said  Parikhita Pradhan of Kurukel village.

Each family will be given Rs 15 lakh and 10 decimal land, Das said. “All the families will also be given pucca houses by the district administration through convergence.”  

The 353-square kilometre sanctuary is situated adjacent to the huge Hirakud reservoir. It is home to over 40 species of mammals, 234 species of birds, 41 species of reptiles, 12 species of amphibians, 42 species of fishes, 85 species of butterflies and 38 species of spiders. 

The sanctuary is an important biogeographic zone from both the ecological and environmental point of view. The  relocation of the villagers will contribute to significant reduction in man-animal conflict and restoration of the wildlife habitat, added Das. 

Principal Chief Conservator of Forests of Odisha Sashi Paul also cited the same reason behind the decision. 

Wild animals like leopards, elephants, gaur, wild boar, Sambar, deer, a host of birds and other animals are found in the thick and dense forests of the Debrigarh sanctuary, the divisional forest officer said. 

“In winter, the reservoir attracts more than 100,000 migratory birds of more than 95 avian species,” she added.

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