ANGUL: The much-awaited relocation of Raigoda village took place from the core area of Satkosia Tiger Reserve (STR) to Saruali, about 7 km away, on Wednesday.
Relocation of the tribal village, which was set up about 100 years back, will now pave the way for a full-fledged tiger reserve with the arrival of more big cats. Currently, there are two tigers in the reserve while there are plans to bring six more big cats from various parts of the country, said Forest officials.
Sources said all the 78 families, with a population of 193 and residing in 33 houses, of Raigoda have been shifted to their new make-shift village.
Divisional Forest Officer of Satkosia Wildlife Sanctuary SMT Rahman said, “The villagers have been accommodated in 99 temporary sheds. They will be provided pucca houses over their allocated four decimal of Government land under Biju Pucca Ghar Yojana. The Government has provided 17 acres of land for their rehabilitation.”
Rahman further informed that each family will be provided `10 lakh under a total expenditure of `7.8 crore. The new location at Saruali has all the basic facilities such as school, water supply system and electricity connection except a hospital.
Regional Chief Conservator of Forest Sudarshan Panda expressed happiness over the smooth relocation of the village and said the new place will have all facilities for the villagers to lead a normal life. However, he denied any connection between shifting of the village and bringing in more tigers to the reserve.
Shifting of Raigoda village was a headache for the district administration. Several preparatory meetings were held for the purpose under the chairmanship of Collector Anil Kumar Samal, who also made several visits to Raigoda and the new location at Saruali along with other officials.
STR, which is spread over an area of about 9.63 sq km, consists of parts of Satkosia Gorge Sanctuary, Mahanadai Wildlife Division and Bainsipalli Sanctuary.
Forest official sources said five to six tigers were present in STR in 2005. But the number of the big cats dwindled to two because of several adverse conditions prevailing in the region.
For the last two years, STR authorities have launched a drive against poachers and made the climate for rearing of tigers conducive by increasing the prey base.