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Wildlife Odisha: Danger Lurking In The Name Of Development?

As summer starts we eagerly wait for the great festival of Odisha called ‘Raja’ (not Rajo or Rajjo) the celebration of menstruation, the celebration of mother earth and the celebration of togetherness by reciting the epic lines ‘Banaste dakila Gaja, Barasake thare asichhi Raja’. Here ‘Gaja’ represents to the elephants the wild pride of Odisha. This line tells us about the existence of wild elephants in different forests Odisha. But their home vast green forests has been decreasing in map of Odisha and growing in papers. The man-animal conflict is straight up – the elephants are now making their way into the human settlement.

But matter of regret is that they are continuously losing their life when railway tracks, with trains ramming them at unmanned crossings.  Now National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) is planning such plan which may ruin the life of jumbos. NHAI is planning to upgrade its NH-55 road from two lanes to 4 lanes for which 23,685 trees in forest land will have to be cut. The Samablpur-Angul area is major corridor of elephants through Athmallik region. Showing cause of rapid growth of traffic NH-55 is to be upgraded which will connects NH-53 in Sambalpur and NH-16 in Cuttack. For the project 614 hectares of land will be needed out of which 109 hectare is of forest land. In Both Sambalpur and Anugul 114 villages will be affected. This region is home to 170 elephants and near about 29 leopards. Satkoshia wildlife sanctuary, Khalausuni and Badarama Sanctuary is also nearer to it.

In the area elephants use road to reach out another side of jungle. In Rairakhol like areas human-animal conflict has been usual incidents. It will never be easy for them to cross the four lane road and if they divert their path they will enter villages which lead to dangerous situation for both. It is easy for government to convert those lands to no forest land of Government but the wild-elephants or other wild animals will never know what’s going on the name of development. It is easy to tell elephants rushed into villages, now it’s the time to ask ourselves didn’t we enter towards their villages or living areas. Nandankanan and Chandaka-Dampara sanctuaries are pride of twin cities which are also in danger for unstoppable construction works. There are no such sanctuaries anywhere in India, within few kilometers from the state capital. The day shouldn’t come we will have to show the elephants in photos.

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