BHUBANESWAR: The Ministry of Environment and Forests has asked the Forest Department to furnish measures being undertaken to secure three elephant corridors in the State as per the direction of the Supreme Court.Earlier this month, hearing on a writ petition by Vidya Athreya, the apex court had asked the Centre to consider measures to make 27 elephant corridors inviolate since these were accorded high priority status in ‘Gajah’ report submitted by the Project Elephant in 2013.
These 27 elephant corridors are located in nine States. The three corridors in Odisha include the Similipal-Satkosia, Baula-Kuldiha and Kotagarh-Chandrapur routes used by the elephants.
Sources in the Wildlife Wing said the MoEF has sought to know if land acquisition would be required to secure the three corridors.In a letter to the State, IG (Forests) and Director, Project Elephant RK Srivastava asked to assess the feasibility of protecting the corridors through land acquisition and stated that MoEF would consider funding assistance for the purpose.
The State Government has been asked to furnish the action taken report within 60 days. Accordingly, the Wildlife Wing has asked the DFOs of Keonjhar, Balasore, Baripada, Rayagada and Baliguda to submit details of the corridors.Sources said, the DFOs would have to indicate the land pattern of the corridors and if there is existence of private land which may necessitate acquisition in various forms to make the corridors secure.
However, of the three corridors, the Similipal-Satkosia and Baula-Kuldiha stretches are part of one composite route used by the elephants as identified by the Wildlife Wing, while the Kotagarh-Chandrapur is a separate one.The State Government has, so far, identified 14 elephant corridors in the State. In 2012-13, it started the Elephant Corridor Management Plan with an annual budget of `5 crore. In 2015, a separate Elephant Management Plan was launched. To converge the initiatives, it clubbed the two schemes under Management of Elephant and Corridors beginning 2016-17.
A number of studies and management plans are being worked out by the State Government in this connection too.The Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) has been entrusted the task of preparing the Comprehensive Wildlife Management Plan for the entire State comprising two dozen themes. The agency has also been roped in by the Centre for a similar nationwide task.
Besides, the Asian Nature Conservation Foundation (ANCF), headed by elephant expert and Member of National Board for Wildlife Raman Sukumar, has been assigned the carrying capacity study of the elephant corridors. This study which is expected to be submitted in September focuses on habitats, changes, identification of gaps as well as specific action plans.