Secure us from wildlife attacks, demand voters

Villagers in Odisha’s Kendrapara district, who have been battling to survive attacks of estuarine crocodiles, wild boars and spotted deer say their plea for safety and security has fallen to deaf ears of the politicians and it would be an important decisive factor for the voters in the district which will go to poll on April 17.

Locals here are a anguished lot and political thinkers have predicted this would be translated into negative votes.

“We are still undecided whom to vote. In the past, promises have been made only to be broken. Nobody is sensitive to our suffering. We will vote for a candidate who would ensure our safety ,” Radhakant Manna, a voter from Kansara-Badadandua village said.

Rajnagar and Mahakalpada Assembly constituency accounts for an estimated one lakh voters, who are being by and large affected by wildlife and forest laws. The said group of voters hold the key in deciding the final outcome of the polls.

Adding to their woes is the national park, the wildlife sanctuary and the wildlife sanctuary prohibitory measures that have severely affected their livelihood. Even the seven-year-long embargo on sea-fishing to ensure safety of olive ridley turtles has become another issue in these backward villages of the state.

In the past five years, several persons were killed, many injured because of crocodile and boar attacks while crops were destroyed by wild boars and spotted deer.

To be precise, livelihood of these villagers have been affected after the crocodile breeding and rearing project at Dangamala within Bhitarakanika forest started operating in 1975, following which the forest department imposed a ban on fishing in rivers and creeks within the areas.

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