Crocodile attack leaves villagers in Bhitarkanika panic-stricken

Kendrapara: Rise in crocodile attacks has now spread panic along the riverside villages of Bhitarkanika National Park in Kendrapara district.

The most recent incident was reported on June 2, when a man died after being dragged by a saltwater crocodile. The deceased Sanjay Pradhan of Mandapada village was dragged into the river by the reptile while he had gone to take a bath. The mutilated body of Pradhan was recovered the next day.

“We saw the crocodile moving in the water with Pradhan’s body in its jaws. His body was recovered the next day,” said Ranjit Swain, an eye-witness.

The instances of crocodile attacks are frequent during the breeding season between May and June. The Forest department officials also admit that two to three persons are falling prey to crocodile attacks in the district every year.

However, lack of concrete steps on part of the government is being attributed as the reason behind the rise in casualties as people alongside river are depending on several water bodies for their daily chores.

Though there is a requirement of over 100 net-protected ghats in Pattamundai, the Forest department has only been able to set up such installations in around 10 to 12 ghats.

The water bodies of Bhitarakanika are home to 1,742 crocodiles as per this year’s census report.

“We are setting up new installations to prevent crocodile intrusion, but such units are getting damaged during the monsoon,” said Bimal Prasanna Acharya, a senior Forest official.