|The auditorium and (below) a broken ride at the Biju Patnaik Energy Park. Pictures by Ashwinee Pati
Bhubaneswar, Sept. 15: The Biju Patnaik Energy Park near Khandagiri hills, which is the only facility in the city that displays models of solar and other non-conventional energy, has turned into a den of snakes.
The Odisha Renewable Energy Development Agency established the park in 2006 with an aim to promote awareness about renewable energy sources. But visitors are now afraid to enter into premises because of snakes.
A resident of the nearby Satya Sai Enclave, Jyotiprakash Das said: “People who used to visit the park frequently are now scared of snakes on its premises. There are so many rat snakes inside the park. Various other kinds of snakes are also there.”
Soni Parida, a student who came to the park this morning, was scared after coming to know about the presence of snakes inside it. “The authorities should urgent take some steps to address the issue,” said the Pokhariput resident.
A security guard on duty at the park said: “We get to see striped keel-back (mati biradi in Odia) snakes here regularly during the rainy season. But, they are non-poisonous. But, various other snakes, such as rat snakes, are also there.”
Officer in charge of the park P. Acharya said: “Snakes are seen everywhere in the park. I see snakes moving on the grass even when I stand on my balcony. But snakes are also caught frequently from high-security areas such as the Assembly and the secretariat. So, why should the presence of snakes be a serious issue in our park?” He also said that snakes could easily sneak in to the park because of its proximity to the Khandagiri hills.
Subhendu Mallick from Snake Helpline said: “If the park authorities wish, they can adopt permanent measures to keep snakes away. They can seal the cracks in the boundary wall, putting meshed wire nets at inlet and outlet of drainage channels passing through the park or create chemical barriers for snakes. Water sources near the park can also be treated with chemicals to keep snakes at bay.”
The park officials said that apart from collecting an entry fee of Rs 5, they are also collecting fees from film units for shooting inside the park. They also allow people to organise social event in a part of the park. This is a source of income to reimburse the park’s maintenance expenditure.
“The Oreda must improve their display boards as many of these are not working. Besides, visitors find themselves at a loss as there are no guides to explain the exhibits to them. They should also take measures to make the place safer for visitors as more than 300 people come here everyday,” said Damodar Mohanty, a resident of Gandamunda.