Develp alternate wildlife habitats: Naveen

Bhubaneswar: Any loss of wildlife habitat caused by development projects should be made up and site specific wildlife management plans drawn up, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik stressed today.

"Development projects should be implemented with care. For any loss of wildlife habitat, it has to be ensured that an equally good habitat is created to replace it. Site specific wildlife management plans have to be in place for each development project affecting wildlife habitats," Patnaik told at a function to celebrate the 57th Wildlife Week here.

The chief minister said that there should be livelihood opportunities for local people while managing forests, sanctuaries and national parks and urged forest department staff working in protected areas to win the confidence of the local people. Poverty alleviation of deprived people dependent on forests should be the objective of all schemes being implemented in forest and wildlife areas, he said.

Naming the Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project, he said, under it, special emphasis was being laid on creation of livelihood opportunities through eco-tourism which should be expanded. Stating that eco-tourism needed to be given special thrust as it provided employment opportunities to local youth. Patnaik identified Similipal, Bhitarkanika, Satkosia, Kuldiha, Debigarh, Balukhand-Konark and Chandaka sanctuaries and Chilika lake of having rich potential. On growing man-animal conflict, he said "ideally our efforts should be directed at minimizing it."Stating that immediate payment of compassionate grant for any loss caused wild animals would help reduce public anger against animals, he said that the rate of compassionate grant this year has been increased by the state government. It has been doubled to Rs 2 lakh in case of death, Rs 5,000 per acre for loss of crops like paddy and Rs 10,000 per acre for cash crops.

Patnaik said that the population of elephants, black buck, migratory birds, olive ridley turtles, salt water crocodiles was stable or improving in the state. 14 traditional corridors were identified for elephants which needed to be managed properly to check their depredation.