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Odisha’s green village shows way to wildlife conservation

Debrigarh wildlife sanctuary is promoting eco-friendly lifestyle among villagers by providing them toilets and gas connection (Pics. Courtesy Twitter/@HirakudDFO)

Dhodrokusum village in Odisha’s Debrigarh wildlife sanctuary, Sambalpur district, has undergone a sea change as it has become the reserve’s first green village.

Located near Hirakud wetland, the 48 households in the village have been taking steps to adopt an eco-friendly lifestyle and thereby becoming less dependent on the forests. They have been provided with fuel-efficient chullahs by the forest department, and those families who can afford LPG have been given gas connections. All this has greatly reduced the use of firewood and its collection from the sanctuary on a large scale, reducing human-animal conflict situations.

The forest officials have initiated behavioural changes by constructing toilets in all the 48 households so that the villagers can be prevented from open defecation. With this they don’t need to go to the forest and run the risk of conflicts.

Likewise, to help the residents manage their waste, earthen reusable dustbins have been given to all the families. Now the villagers do not use the forest as the dumping ground of garbage.

Debrigarh Green Village2
Earthen reusable dustbins in the village has enabled proper waste management

To provide a sense of security to the people, solar street lights have been installed. The provision of light after sunset makes the villagers aware of the animals when they enter their area.

The Hirakud wildlife division has been consistently helping and guiding the residents of this village in their endeavour. This is necessary as Debrigarh has a high density of wildlife and being close to the dam, the animals do enter the village.

Anshu Pragyan Das, the Divisional Forest Officer, HWD feels these measures will go a long way in making the villagers reduce pressure on wildlife habitat. He added that by keeping the area free of plastic and garbage, animals like sambar, Indian gaur, peacocks and deer who graze around the village will not run the risk of eating harmful objects.

The DFO hopes the green tag for the village will motivate others also to adopt these measures and also pledge their support for conservation.