Bhubaneswar: Even as six months have passed after National Green Tribunal (NGT) ordered Odisha government in August, 2021 to issue a notification for the construction of elephant corridors in the state, no step seems to have been taken in this regard, thanks to the negligent attitude of the authorities concerned.
In its order, the NGT had also insisted the government should complete construction works within the next two months, but to no avail.
In 2010, the state Forest department had said Odisha then had as many as 14 elephant corridors. The department had also prepared a draft notification in 2012 to send it for Central government’s nod. But there seems to be no steps taken further.
Meanwhile, human-elephant conflicts have been increasing day by day. At least 771 elephants and 881 human beings have died in last ten years due to the conflicts, a government source said.
The pachyderms usually cover a distance of around 25 kilometres in a day in search of food and water. The animals consume about 150 kilogram of leaves and 100 litres of water every day.
However, the jumbos use a convenient passage for years together.
As per state Forest department, four out of 14 elephant corridors are located on inter-state and the rest 10 are on inter-district borders. The four inter-state corridors include Badampahar (Mayurbhanj)-Dhoba Dhobani (Jharkhand), Badampahar (Mayurbhanj)-Karida (Jharkhand), Deuli (West Bengal)-Suliapada (Mayurbhanj) and Karo (Keonjhar)-Karampada (Jharkhand).
Similarly, the inter-district jumbo corridors are Similipal-Hradagarh-Kuldiha, Telkoi-Pallahara, Jiridamali-Anantpur, Kanheijena-Anantpur, Buguda-Central RF (Nayagarh division), Nuagaon-Baruni, Tala-Kholagarh, Barapahar-Tarabha-Kantamal, Kotagarh-Chandrapur and Karlapat-Urladani.
The 14 jumbo corridors cover a total area of around 870.61 square kilometres and are 420.8 kilometres in length.
“Once state government notification is issued for elephant corridors, the process of industrialisation and mining activities in those areas will come to a halt. Perhaps for that reason, the government has pushed the NGT order under red tape,” many wildlife experts opined.
Bonai division of Sundargarh forest department had published an advertisement last week inviting quotations from different parties to conduct a pre-survey of mining. As it seems, the department is more interested in mining than construction of corridors, the experts said.
Reacting to this, PCCF (Wildlife) Sashi Paul said, “Fourteen elephant corridors have already been identified in Odisha. However, the state government’s notification has not been issued yet.”
A wildlife expert and secretary of an outfit named ‘Odisha Vanyaprani Samiti’ Biswajit Mohanty said, the NGT has already decreed over the elephant corridor issue, but the state government has been delaying to execute the tribunal order and issue a notification.”
With the forest department in limbo, the lives of elephants have been pushed into danger, Mohanty said.