Relocation plan for encroachers of Bhitarkanika national park

KENDRAPARA (ODISHA)
25 Oct 2017

Squatters within the Bhitarkanika national park in Odisha's Kendrapara district, who were served eviction notices in the past, have got some respite with the government deciding to rehabilitate them.
The revenue administration has decided to resettle 90 families living illegally within the core area of the park. It has drawn up a blueprint to relocate them at the proposed Bagapatia resettlement colony, said a senior government official.
These families have encroached upon the Charigharia forest block within the national park. Nearly 10-acre stretch of forest area in forest block within the national park is under encroachment.
Evicting the squatters from the encroached forest territory has become a cumbersome process. The encroachers, who are enlisted as voters, any move to evict them has faced opposition from various quarters, he said.
"The district administration has initiated measures to rehabilitate these people purely on humanitarian consideration. However, it is a fact that the encroachers have no legal right to dwell on the national park area , said Kendrapara district Collector Regu G.
On direction received from higher ups, the encroachers are being relocated at the proposed Bagapatia resettlement colony. The sea-erosion-hit residents of Satabhaya gram panchayat are also being resettled at the said spot. After Satabhaya people are rehabilitated, the encroachers of Charigharia forest block would be resettled, he said.
These families would be handed over the land records of rights of 10 decimal stretch homestead land. Besides, they would be disbursed Rs 1.50 lakh housing grants to construct houses under Biju Pucca ghar scheme. The to-be-displaced people would be accommodated at 15 acre patch of land at Bagapatia, said Rajnagar Tehsildar Khirod Kumar Behera.
The national park authorities had earlier served eviction notices against the families illegally settling in the prohibited forest corridors of the globally-acclaimed wetland site. Drive had been launched on number of occasions to make the national park areas encroachment-free. But it had failed to take off following people s protest.
After the squatters vacate the encroached forest land, the reclaimed land would be subjected to mangrove regeneration plan, said forest officials.
While there are a number of villages that thrive within the wildlife sanctuary, Charigharia is the lone village that has been existing within the national park boundary. About four families had settled there following the 1971 cyclone. (PTI)