Mrunal Manmay Dash

Jashipur Police on Tuesday rescued 18 tourists who were stuck at Barehipani Nature Camp in Similipal Sanctuary under Mayurbhanj district for 16 hours.

As per reports, some tourists from Odisha and other states could not get out of Similipal after the locals blocked roads and launched a strike on Sunday. They were stuck at Barehipani. Jashipur police rescued them through a different route after 16 hours.

Roads leading to the Similipal sanctuary have reportedly been blocked for an indefinite period by activists of Similipal Bikash Parishad, a local outfit working for the development of the area.

As per reports, pressing for a five-point charter of demands, people of three panchayats also joined the agitation by the members of the Parishad and blocked Joranda Chhak, Sana Uski, Chala, and Lanjighosara Chhak.

They have demanded better roads from Kalikaprasad Gates to Gadasimilipal, the establishment of mobile towers inside the Similipal, a concrete bridge across the main road in the sanctuary, road connectivity to all the villages inside the Similipal under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana(PMGSY) and creation of employment opportunities for unemployed youths of the peripheral areas of the sanctuary.

Amid the protest, the forest department issued an advisory to tourists on Saturday requesting them not to proceed to Similipal Nature camps at Barehipani, Kumari, and Gurguria till further information.

It is pertinent to mention here that the Sanctuary was thrown open to the public 15 days earlier than its scheduled opening every year in a bid to attract more tourists. However, the bandh by locals and the resultant ordeal of these 18 tourists have put a question mark on tourist safety.