BHUBANESWAR: The Orissa Environment Society (OES) on Sunday urged the State government to send a proposal to the Centre for granting biosphere reserve status to Mahendragiri hill complex in Gajapati district. The society said acting on its proposal, the State government had constituted a committee in November 2011 to study the feasibility of constituting Mahendragiri Biosphere Reserve. In December 2014, the committee had unanimously agreed in-principle that the hill complex be considered for creating a biosphere reserve. Six years have passed but the State government is yet to submit the proposal to the Centre, said OES secretary Jaya Krushna Panigrahi.
He said in view of the fast degrading eco-system, the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), in its report, ‘Planning a wildlife protected area network in India’ had recommended setting up of a biosphere reserve at Mahendragiri hill complex. Even the Centre had asked the State government to implement WII’s recommendations way back in 1988. Rise in human intervention, loss of vegetation cover, stone quarrying and decrease in water table has taken a toll on the hill complex.
A biosphere create opportunities for all kinds of eco-development activities and eco-tourism. “It will help promote sustainable development of the withering unique ecosystem of the hill complex and enhance the socio-economic condition of locals,” Panigrahi said. OES officials said Mahendragiri is included in the list of 15 sites identified under the Ramayana circuit. They urged the Archaeological Survey of India to take steps for conservation of ancient temples on the hill complex.