Odisha govt’s biggest relocation to secure Debrigarh gets final push

In what is dubbed as the biggest ever relocation of human settlements from a protected area by Odisha government, inhabitants of three villages inside Debrigarh Wildlife Sanctuary where they lived in a zero-connectivity zone for decades – bounded by the vast Hirakud reservoir on one side and forests on the other – are being moved to Chakramal mouza in Bargarh district.

As the exercise gets a final push, Hirakud Wildlife Division and Bargarh administration have begun relocating 359 families – comprising about 800 persons – from Kurumkel, Bhutuli and Rengali located under the jurisdiction of Khola panchayat under Ambabhona tehsil.

Sitting deep inside the dense forests of Debrigarh Sanctuary, the first 42 families from Lambipali village with a population of 80 was first shifted to a temporary colony during November last year. Now, relocation of the rest – including 213 from Kurumkel, 91 from Bhutuli and 55 from Rengali – is underway.

To make the transition seamless, a temporary resettlement colony has been set up in Khola gram panchayat. It has huge semi-permanent sheds designed and constructed by the villagers themselves suiting their existing lifestyle. Electricity connection, drainage, round-the-clock tap water supply, drinking water, community toilets, and bathing ghats for women have been established.

Besides, community halls, children’s parks inside the colony, library, study articles, and drawing facilities in the community hall for children and women too have also been developed. The permanent colony will be developed near the settlement on the identified land near the temporary colony.

Not long ago, a 10-km-long kutcha forest road that used to get submerged by the overflowing reservoir was their only access to the mainland. Without any access to health, education, and other amenities and unregistered right to natural resources, their dependence on forests led to frequent incidents of human-wildlife conflict.

Last year, during the August-October period, Lambipali was relocated following a series of confidence-building measures. The individual families are entitled to cash-based land compensation as per the rehabilitation and relocation policy under which each beneficiary gets financial aid of `15 lakh from the Forest department besides 10 decimal of land with a pucca house through housing scheme in convergence with the district administration.

Divisional Forest Officer of Hirakud Wildlife Division Anshu Pragyan Das said the relocation process was completed within six months to prevent fear of uncertainty among villagers. “Relocation was essential for social justice to people and wildlife conservation. It was possible as people have faith in government and prompt actions by Bargarh administration. We are trying to address their requirements and rebuild their lives besides creating more inviolate space for the animals in the sanctuary,” she added.

Aniruddha Thethua, a villager of Kurumkel, said, basic facilities like road, health and education eluded them inside the sanctuary. “Though we could get ration and housing assistance because of our local representatives, life inside the sanctuary is difficult. All the villagers agreed to relocate after discussion with Hirakud Wildlife Division officials and we have been provided with all facilities and incentives promised.

The relocation will have an immense positive impact on the wildlife habitat. These villages created physical hindrance to the movement of wild animals. After relocation, the western shoreline of Debrigarh will be fully inviolate with more space and grassland near the wetland which will highly support wildlife population.


Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Most Popular

To Top