Jharkhand’s Budha Pahad soon to become soft release centre of Palamau Tiger Reserve - Hindustan Times
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Jharkhand’s Budha Pahad soon to become soft release centre of Palamau Tiger Reserve

Jul 02, 2023 04:45 PM IST

Budha Pahad, the mountainous terrain once dotted by land mines installed by the Maoists, was ‘freed’ from the clutches of the extremist group in 2022 after months-long special operation by the security forces

The Palamau Tiger Reserve (PTR) in Jharkhand, one of the first nine tiger reserves of the country, is in the process of developing around 2000-hectare land of Budha Pahad area into a grassland dotted with waterholes besides developing a ‘soft release centre’ of spotted deer, officials familiar with the matter said.

 (Representative Photo)
(Representative Photo)

The development would be a huge boost for Budha Pahad, once an impregnable fortress of the outlawed Maoists on the western flank of Jharkhand sharing the border with Chhattisgarh, which also acts as the buffer zone of the PTR.

According to the forest department officials, the idea behind the project is to increase the prey base for the predators in the local ecosystem. A proposal has been sent for approval to the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), said Ashutosh Kumar, field director, PTR.

“We traditionally have had a good number of leopards in the area. The area is also a part of the tiger corridor that stretches from Chhattisgarh to Maharashtra. Therefore, we have decided to increase the prey base in the area that could hold the predators in the area,” added Kumar.

Also Read: Wildlife Bureau issues ‘red alert’ against poachers, hunters in all tiger reserves

The officer said the entire foothill of the Budha Pahar area, which would be around 2000 hectares on the Jharkhand side, would be developed into grassland besides putting in place a soft release centre.

“We would construct earthen check dams and ponds to ensure the animals get water round the year and serve as a habitat for different animals. Apart from that a soft release centre, which would be fenced by barbed wires for Chitals, would be developed. They would breed in the centre and would gradually be released in the wild,” added Kumar.

Budha Pahad, the mountainous terrain once dotted by land mines installed by the Maoists, was ‘freed’ from the clutches of the extremist group in 2022 after months-long special operation by the security forces.

Situated around 150 km from the state capital Ranchi, the Burha Pahad area, a mountainous terrain spread across the junction of Garhwa and Latehar districts in Jharkhand and Balrampur district in Chhattisgarh, was considered an impregnable fortress of the Maoists group, whose top leaders used this terrain as their hideout for over 5three decades.

Following a joint operation by the Jharkhand Police and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) to clear the area of rebels, then Jharkhand police chief Neeraj Sinha landed at Budha Pahad hilltop on September 18 in a symbolic gesture announcing the state’s control over the area.

On January 27, 2023, chief minister Hemant Soren landed in the area becoming the first Jharkhand chief minister to visit Budha Pahad. He launched a series of development projects for the area that had remained disconnected from the mainstream. The security forces are also setting up multiple camps and constructing temporary roads in different pockets to make the hilltops accessible.

Forest department officials said implementing new projects in the area would not be a problem as their movement in the area has eased in the past one year.

“We traditionally have had eco-village committees in the area. The forest department officials used to man the area in association with these village committees. However, with Naxal activities having almost seized, these projects won’t take much time to kick off once they are approved,” an official said.

Though PTR is one of the first notified tiger reserves, the tiger population has gradually gone down in the facility over the years.

In January this year, a sub-adult male tiger was spotted and captured on a mobile camera in the Kutku range of the reserve after almost three years.

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