SAMBALPUR: A jogging track, watch tower, cafeteria, motorable road and much more are in the offing for the Budharaja reserve forest. These form the facelift plan for the reserve forest which has been a victim of encroachment.
Already a tourist destination with the hilltop housing temple of Lord Shiva and motorable road to the top from where one can get a bird’s view of the town, the Forest Department is planning to develop these infrastructures to increase the tourist footfall.
The Forest Department has already started the process of cleaning the area of encroachers. Although it is being seen as a belated move, the department for the first time seems serious about evicting encroachers from reserve forest which was once spread over 133 acres but now has reduced to about 75 acres.
In a survey undertaken by the Forest Department in April, it was found that 252 houses have been constructed inside the reserve forest with the names of 700 encroachers enrolled in the electoral rolls. Most of the households have also availed power and water supply.
While the Forest Department has started evicting encroachers, it is planning to construct a boundary wall around it to prevent further encroachment, said Town Range Officer Subash Chandra Khuntia.
Divisional Forest Officer, Sambalpur, Santosh Joshi said the estimate for the boundary wall is being prepared and all efforts are made to protect the reserve forest that is the only green patch inside the town.