Dear me! It's a deer park - Thanks to govt apathy, tourist spot in tatters

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By SUDEEP KUMAR GURU
  • Published 4.10.10
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Balangir, Oct. 3: The 40-year-old Harisankar Deer Park located at the foothills of Gandhamardan hills, around 80km from here, has fallen prey to apathy on part of the district administration and political will.

There are around 201 deer left under an unhygienic condition. Six deer have died due to want of fodder in the last two years.

The deer park was set up in 1971 over 1.50 acres of land with a view to drawing tourists at Harisankar. In the beginning, the park used to house eight deer along with other species such as blue bull, bear, leopards and peacocks. Soon the park became a popular tourist spot as it happened to be the only one in the western part of the state at that time.

The popularity of the deer park prompted the authority to develop a similar one — Gandhamardan Deer Park — on five acres after two years.

Gandhamardan too had deer blue bull, bear and leopards.

However, maintenance of Gandhamardan later became a tough task for the authority due to paucity of funds. Some animals of the park were shifted to Nandankanan while several other fell prey to poachers. The last animal of the park was killed around 10 years ago.

Locals lament closure of the park. “The park could neither be saved nor revived despite A.U. Singhdeo, a political heavyweight from the district, becoming the tourism minister twice in the recent past,” said Radheshyam Sahu of nearby Khaprakhole village.

At present, Gandhamardan park lies abandoned while Harisankar languishes due to space constraint. The park now houses 201 deer. Lack of space hinders free movement of animals inside the park and incidents of deer dying here have become a routine affair.

Sources said the state government provided 1.60kg of fodder everyday for each deer, which is far less than what is required. The animals are supplied leaves and branches of trees collected from the Gandhamardan forest to meet their food requirement.

Divisional forest officer (DFO) of Balangir R.K. Sahu admitted that the park was too small to accommodate 201 animals. “The park is running only on state government aid as the Centre has not granted park status to Harisankar. We have asked authorities to shift half of the deer to other places,” he said.

“The state government provides only Rs 2 lakh annually which is not sufficient to maintain the park,” he said.