ROURKELA: Water scarcity may be haunting lakhs of people across the State and wild animals but the forestofficials of Sundargarh district had their plans ready to protect the animals in forests much before the summer approached. In fact, over the past few years, efforts have been made to create artificial water bodies in forest areas and those are bearing fruit now. The Rourkela forest division is spread over 912 sq km. The officials of the division started taking measures in 2012. They have constructed 77 water bodies each measuring 1,200 sq m and nine feet deep and two large water bodies each measuring 10,000 sq m and 12 feet deep.
Rourkela Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Sanjit Kumar said efforts are underway to set up eight new water bodies and renovate a few others. Water is available in forests and even if the heat scenario aggravates in May, there would be sufficient water for wild animals, he added. Bonai DFO SS Kora said the division is spread over 2,029 sq km and has 51 artificial water bodies. The forests in Bonai division have numerous perennial streams to support wildlife even in grim scenario. A few defunct water bodies have been taken up for renovation while tanker has been kept ready as a backup.
The Sundargarh forest division too is equally prepared to fight the heat. Sundargarh DFO AK Mishra said the division is spread over 1,760 sq km and has 50 artificial water bodies and several perennial rivulets. The officials are keeping a watch on water availability and taking necessary steps to augment facilities wherever required. At least 10 places in Hemgir, Ujjalpur and a few other ranges have been identified to dig large holes on dry sand beds to augment water availability, he said, adding that water pools have been created by placing sandbags on a few natural streams. The district has tropical deciduous forest cover comprising majority ‘Sal’ forests. Cameras fitted in Sundargarh forest division confirmed that 11 varieties of animals, including elephant, leopard, jungle cat, bear, barking deer, spotted deer, jackal, hyena and wild boar and pugmarks of tiger were found recently. Bonai forest division too has similar wildlife features. Rourkela-based Regional Chief Conservator of Forest (RCCF) Lingaraj Otta said the State Government is serious about augmenting water sources in forests to boost bio-diversity and additional proposals have been submitted for creation of water bodies, including check dams, to provide succour to wild animals and cattle of nearby forest villages.