Pradeep Pattanayak

Hundreds of people took out a rally at Chandrabhaga in Puri district on Monday, protesting against the Odisha government’s proposal to transfer a patch of forest land to the Odisha Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (Idco). 

A forest land measuring 30 hectares, which is located close to the Konark Balukhand Sanctuary at Chandrabhaga, is proposed to be transferred to the Corporation. For the development of infrastructure for tourism at Chandrabhaga, the State government has identified the 30-hectare patch adjacent to the sanctuary. And, 10,000 casuarinas, cashew nut, acacia and neem trees have also been identified to be sacrificed at the altar of development.   

The rally, organized under the banner of Prerana, a Bhubaneswar based environmental organisation (non-profit), culminated at Chandrabhaga where a meeting was held. Later, objecting to the proposal, the activists staged a unique protest by hugging the trees to be felled.

Observing that the move will have an adverse impact on Konark Sun temple, coast, marine drive and, most importantly, birds and animals; the protestors urged the State government to withdraw the proposal failing which the agitation would be intensified.

“This sanctuary is the best man-made forest tract in the country. The government’s proposal to transfer 70 acres of it to Idco for the development of tourism infrastructure will have a destructive impact on the eco system. 10,000 trees will be felled. Our struggle to save the forest will continue till the proposal is axed,” said Dillip Srichandan, chairman, Prerana. 

Bhagirathy Swain, president, Karamanga Srikanthapur EDC said, “The forest stands as a protective wall for Karamanga Srikanthapur against storms and cyclones. Therefore, the proposal should be withdrawn.”