Activists oppose power station for protecting blacbucks

Berhampur: Wildlife activists have opposed the proposed grid sub-station of state-owned Odisha Power Transmission Corporation Ltd (OPTCL) at Bhetanai, saying it would pose a serious threat to blackbucks, an endangered animal sighted in Ganjam district of the state.

OPTCL has proposed to construct the grid sub-station (220/132/33KV) in around 12 acres of land at Bhetanai to stabilise power supply from Bhanjanagar to Aska in, an official said.

“The land is now used by the blackbucks and cattle in the area. The forest department has also developed grasses in the area as herds of blackbucks visit there. Construction of any sub-station in the area will definitely disturb the habitat of blackbuck and we strongly oppose the proposal,” President of Ganajm district Blackbuck Protection Committee Amulya Upadhaya said.

He said they had vented their grievances to the district administration as well as the chief wildlife warden.

Chief Wildlife Warden S S Srivastav had also in a letter to the district collector in August last year suggested to take into consideration the habitat of blackbuck, a scheduled 1 animal under the Wildlife Protection Act 1972, he claimed.

“We have asked the Sub-Collector of Bhanjanagar and Divisional Forest Officer of Ghumusar South to conduct a joint survey on the land and ascertain the impact on blackbuck habitat,” Additional District Magistrate (revenue) Sitanshu Rout said.

“We’ll take a decision after getting the joint report,” he said.

While the blackbuck, sighted earlier in Balukhanda in Puri district had vanished, the population of the animal increased to 3806 in Ganjam district by March 2015. Most of the animals were sighted in Balipadara-Bhetanai area under Buguda Forest Range (1239), officials said.