Eco-Friendly Village in Odisha Ensures a Harmonious Coexistence with Wildlife. This forest officer is enabling villagers in Odisha to earn Rs 1 crore every year through eco-tourism

In the serene village of Dhodrokusum, nestled near the Debrigarh Sanctuary in Odisha, a remarkable transformation has taken place over the past year. Thanks to the visionary initiative of DFO Anshu Pragyan Das, the villagers have embraced an eco-friendly lifestyle to create a natural haven for the forest’s wild inhabitants.

A Year of Fearless Wanderings for Dibrugarh Wildlife

For the animals of Odisha’s Dibrugarh Wildlife Sanctuary, fear is no longer a constant companion. The 48 families residing in the eco-friendly village of Dhodrokusum have wholeheartedly embraced their responsibility to provide a completely natural environment for these majestic creatures.

A Plastic-Free Endeavor with a Friendly Approach

Around 200 to 250 people from the 48 families in Dhodrokusum have taken a collective step towards making their village plastic-free. This commendable effort involves the placement of dustbins throughout the village and the adoption of fuel-saving chulhas in every household. Moreover, the villagers have undergone a remarkable change in their perception of forest animals, now considering them as friends rather than foes.

There is unique coordination between animals and humans here :

The Extraordinary Symbiosis of Humans and Wildlife

At the heart of this harmonious coexistence is the remarkable coordination between the animals and the villagers. Spearheading this noble initiative is Anshu Pragyan Das, the dedicated DFO of Hirakud Sanctuary. When posted here as a forest officer, Das observed that the forest animals often passed through Dhodrokusum, making it essential to provide them with a natural environment to thrive freely.

“The committee from the village approached me, seeking my advice on how to invest in developing their village. That’s when the idea of an eco-village crossed my mind,” Anshu told The Better India. 

A Community United for a Cause

To facilitate this unique bond between animals and humans, Anshu Pragyan Das initiated various programs, starting with the construction of toilets in every household to make the village open-defecation-free. Additionally, the villagers were encouraged to minimize wood consumption from the forest, and the department provided energy-saving chulhas for every home. The installation of eco-friendly earthen dustbins at strategic locations within the village further enhanced their eco-conscious efforts.

Reviving Wildlife Movements and Nurturing Relations

As a result of these endeavors, wildlife movements have notably increased. Animals like sambar, Indian gaur, deer, and peacocks now roam freely in the forest with newfound confidence. Anshu Pragyan Das proudly states that the plastic-free environment has fostered a positive relationship between the villagers and the forest’s inhabitants.

(Video Credit: The Better India – Hindi)

Paving the Way for a Green Revolution

Anshu Pragyan Das holds high hopes that the success of this eco-friendly village will inspire neighboring communities to follow suit. The vision is to witness the emergence of many such green villages across the country, fostering a harmonious coexistence between humanity and nature.

“The eco-tourism spots began generating considerable revenue for the locals, and they gradually became less dependent on forest products for earning their livelihood. The Odisha model of eco-tourism is the only existing community-based model in India, where over 80 percent of the entire tourism revenue is returned to the community as wages, while the remaining 20 percent is invested for maintenance, upkeep, and up-gradation of the tourist spots,” Anshu explained. 

The entire wildlife wing of the forest department led by Anshu has changed the lives of most of the individuals in the village. The project has garnered a revenue of over Rs 1 crore in the last two years, with each household earning around Rs. 15,000 per month. 

Decoding Womanhood and Work | Anshu Pragyan Das | TEDxYouth@VedicIntSchool

(Video Credit: TEDx Talks)

Conclusion

In conclusion, the transformation of Dhodrokusum stands as a shining example of what collective determination and a mindful approach can achieve. By preserving and cherishing their surroundings, the villagers have not only created a sustainable habitat for wildlife but also exemplified the potential for humanity and nature to thrive together in harmony.