Dhenkanal: As many as 25,000 residents of 30 villages located near Kapilash Wildlife Sanctuary in Dhenkanal district have been nearly trapped after the Forest Department closed the lone all-weather road on pretext of safety of wild animals, locals have alleged.
The recent move of the Forest Department has affected road connectivity to the 30 villages and has hit the livelihood of many tribal families as well. The affected villagers Thursday protested against the decision under the banner of Dhenkanal Swabhiman Surakhya Mancha led by former MLA Nabin Nanda.
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According to a source, there are 30 villages in Kapilash Wildlife Sanctuary, of which tribal-dominated villages like Phulajhara, Pimpiria, Gamharia, Nehengera, Gothatala, Balikiari, Jambu and Darasahi are located in interior regions. The villagers have received Record of Right (RoR) for homestead and farmlands under Forest Rights Act.
Jungle Surakhya Committees in the region have been guarding the wildlife sanctuary by using the road. Dhanianali-Khankira road is the only major road to reach Gondia block headquarters, hospital and court for locals here. Residents of villages under Bega, Laulai, Khankira, Ratanpur and Lethaka panchayats depend on the forest road, the source added.
“Dhanianali-Chhotatentuli-Khankira road was constructed in 1946. The Forest department has illegally closed the road by violating a Central government notification on Kapilash Wildlife Sanctuary issued in 2014 and the state government’s Forest Act, 2006,” Nanda said.
An FIR has been recently lodged against local DFO at Nihalprasad police station. A case was also registered December 14 with National Human Rights Commission in this regard. Despite repeated requests made by the local residents to sort out the issue amicably and through discussion, the department is taking it lightly,” Nanda alleged.
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