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State formulates action plan for Similipal biosphere reserve development




 State Government has formulated a Comprehensive Management Action Plan for the development of the Similipal Biosphere Reserve.

The five year Plan which was approved by the Biosphere Reserve Management Council meeting headed by Chief Secretary Aditya Prasad Padhi here on Saturday has been prepared keeping in view the physical and manpower requirement for the National Park.

While Rs 24.19 crore was earmarked for carrying out development of Similipal Biosphere Reserve in the next five years, an amount of Rs 4.85 crore has been approved for 2017-18 FY, said sources adding that the Chief Secretary underscored the urgency of creating new livelihood initiatives for the people residing in and around the forest reserve. The Centre and State will share the funding on 60:40 and 50:50 ratios for different projects under the plan.
Speaking to reporters, Padhi said special incentives are being given to those residing within the core and buffer area of the reserve in the event of leaving the area to settle anywhere else. Each of those who have already left the jungle area opting to relocate themselves elsewhere are being given a cash compensation of Rs. 10 lakh and a house under Biju Pucca Ghar plan. This apart, all the children from these families would be given free education in government schools. Those who either complete education or drop out will be provided with vocational and/or skill development training, Padhi said.
Spread over of 5569 sq km, the core, buffer and transition areas of the Similipal Biosphere Reserve cover 1194.75 sq km, 1335 sq km and 3038.39 sq km respectively.
Meanwhile, many inhabitants of the hamlets situated within the reserve have voluntarily opted to come out of it availing the incentives state government offer. While there is only one hamlet still existing within the core area, as many as 64 and 1200 such hamlets are found in buffer and transitional areas respectively. Nearly six lakh people belonging to scheduled tribe communities are residing in this reserve.   
Set on a wide expanse of Sal forest, the park is nestled in the centre of Mayurbhanj, the northernmost district of Odisha. It connects south India with Sub-Himalayan areas in the north.
The reserve is endowed with exceptional biodiversity. Out of the reserve’s almost 1,000 species of flowering plants, 94 are orchids. And with 304 species of birds, Similipal is a fabulous destination for birding, said sources having knowledge about this national park.
70 pc of State’s tiger population and 25 pc of elephants are there in the reserve.
India’s largest forest reserve block, Similipal National Park, also happens to be one of the earliest of India’s 15 Tiger reserves that fall under the Project Tiger scheme.
Project Tiger is a tiger conservation program launched in 1973 by the Union government.
The Project aims at ensuring a viable population of Royal Bengal Tigers (RBTs) in their natural habitats and also to protect them from extinction while preserving areas of biological importance as a natural heritage forever represented as close as possible the diversity of ecosystems across the tiger's distribution in the country. Similipal hosts a population of tigers, leopards, elephants, chital and sambar.
Some of the ever flowing rivers of the State such as Budha Balanaga, Khadakei, Kairi, Bhanadan, West Dio, Sanjo and Palpala also originate from this reserve.





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