Odisha: Debrigarh readies for inviolate space, 400 families to relocate

Survey in Lambipali village under Attabira tehsil is complete and 42 families were identified as beneficiaries.

Published: 25th October 2021 07:44 AM  |   Last Updated: 25th October 2021 07:44 AM   |  A+A-

The palli sabha meeting at Kurumkel village on October 8

The palli sabha meeting at Kurumkel village on October 8 | Express

Express News Service

SAMBALPUR:  To minimise human pressure and create an inviolate space for wildlife, Hirakud Wildlife Division has embarked upon a massive relocation exercise of human settlements - probably the biggest in the State - from Debrigarh Wildlife Sanctuary.

Debrigarh, a vibrant protected area in Bargarh district, is getting ready for shifting of over 420 families, thanks to confidence-building measures by Forest department and district administration, as families accorded their consent to resettlement proposal in the last gram sabha held in one of the villages earlier this month. 

As per the plan, four villages - Lambipali, Kurumkel, Bhutuli and Rengali all of which are in Bargarh district - will be relocated. Villagers of Lambipali will be rehabilitated at Tangarpali village in Sambalpur while those from Kurumkel, Bhutuli and Rengali will be shifted to Lakhanpur and Chakramal in Jharsuguda.

Survey in Lambipali village under Attabira tehsil is complete and 42 families were identified as beneficiaries. Relocation of about 380 families in Kurumkel, Bhutuli and Rengali was a concern as they had been displaced during construction of Hirakud Dam and been dwelling in these villages for around seven decades now. However, the villages lack road connectivity and most residents migrate to other places for 3-4 months a year while depending on fishing from the reservoir in other times. 

This, as per official sources, led to villagers to voluntarily relocate as they have been assured a better life with basic amenities besides land and financial aid. In the palli sabha held at Kurumkel on October 8, residents of all four villages gave their consent for relocation after around 100 of them were taken to the identified rehabilitation sites as part of confidence-building measures by the Hirakud Wildlife Division. 

“We were living in this village since there was no other option. We have to struggle even to reach a hospital or get an ambulance. Leaving the village may be painful but there’s hope of a better life in the new place where we have been assured land, housing, financial aid and other facilities,” said Jharana Padhan, a 28-year-old woman from Rengali village.

Babulal Sahu, a 56-year-old of Bhutuli village said, the negotiation with the Forest department was going on for around a month and finally all villagers agreed to shift in the palli sabha meeting. “Personally, I am happy about the relocation as our successors will get a better future. We will also lead a comfortable life,” he hoped. Planned in July, the rehabilitation aims at reducing human-animal conflict within the sanctuary while at the same time facilitating better sustenance for people depending on the forest. 

Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) of Hirakud Widllife Division, Anshu Pragyan Das said the families dwelling in the sanctuary limits never had a stable livelihood. They could not even take up agriculture because of high density of wildlife population. Moreover, Kurumkel, Bhutuli, Rengali are neither categorised as revenue or forest village so far. Though initially they were sceptical about the relocation, with adequate counselling and negotiation, they agreed for relocation from the sanctuary. 

“We started the process from July and with support of district administration and public representatives, gram sabha was completed without any objection. Beside this, identification of suitable land agreed by all four villages is complete and family survey is under process. The survey of Lambipali is already over and we have identified 42 families there,” she added.

As per the relocation policy of Odisha, every male or female above the age of 18, whether married or unmarried, widow and divorcee besides orphan and handicaps, (irrespective of their age) will be counted as beneficiary. As a part of their rehabilitation package, each beneficiary family will get financial aid of `15 lakh from the Forest department. 

This apart, in convergence with the district administration, they will be provided 10 decimal land with a pucca house through housing scheme along with all other basic facilities including health, education and road connectivity, the DFO informed. 


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