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Pti

Around 80 people of 42 families of a village that is nestled in the Debrigarh wildlife sanctuary in Bargarh district have been relocated to reduce human-animal conflict and provide basic amenities to them, officials said.

The villagers have been shifted to a place outside the reserve forest area, they said.

The residents of Lambipali village in Bargarh district were living in a pathetic condition without proper road connectivity, drinking water and health facilities as they stayed far from other human settlements, Hirakud Wildlife Divisional Forest Officer Anshu Das said.

They were unable to undertake cultivation due to a high density of wildlife population in Debrigarh, forcing the villagers to migrate in search of livelihood. The rural hamlet was established in the reserve forest area in 1908.

The wildlife division conducted a series of community mobilisation programmes in August to make them aware of the government policy for relocation and compensation, Das said.

"The villagers expressed willingness in a recent gram sabha, and subsequently, a survey was conducted in September. Around 80 people of 42 families were found eligible for the relocation and getting benefits of a Rs 15-lakh package," she said.

The villagers, under supervision of the forest department and the district administration, were involved in setting up a relocation colony and were shifted there on December 17, the official said.

"They will construct their pucca houses on land already allotted to them, and with the help of the administration, all facilities will be provided to them within a year.

The sanctuary, which spreads across Sambalpur and Bargarh districts, is situated on the bank of Hirakud reservoir.

The process is underway to relocate people living in three more hamlets inside the sanctuary.

"These human settlements are situated deep inside the forest and people living there are also deprived of all basic facilities. The relocation of the villagers will help reduce the human-animal conflict and restore the wildlife habitat," another forest official said.

Spread over 347 square kilometres, the Debrigarh sanctuary is known for the four-horned antelope or chousingha, Indian bison, wild boars, sambar and spotted deer and leopard. It attracts a large number of migratory birds during winter.

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