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‘Holy Forest’ around Jhargram declared Bio-Heritage Site

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If you have been to the ancient Kanak Durga Temple of Jhargram, you must have come across a forested stretch around the temple, unkempt and littered with plastic and packets thrown by pilgrims who come in hordes to this area. But the place is to get a facelift soon with state government declaring this area as a National Bio-diversity Heritage Site. Locals have also joined hands with the administration, in imposing strict rules, to keep the area clean. Constant vigil has ensured people from littering the place with plastic waste. Previously, tourists callously discarded used packets, glasses, empty bottles etc. throwing them in and around the temple. But stringent measures have reaped rich dividends.

The area has been declared a plastic-free zone by the block administration and local panchayat. Now, it is all set to be officially labelled a ‘plastic free zone’ and 61 acres of forest area will be fenced to conserve rare species of trees like sal, akarh, telikadamba, kuchila, and climbers like Bhoot Sal, Kanchan creeper. There are about 350 rare tree species found here. The bird and butterfly species number around 160. Previously, tourists could drive their vehicles till the Kanak Durga Temple located inside the forest, but now restrictions have been imposed. One has to get down from the vehicle some distance ahead of the temple and walk the rest of the stretch to reach the site. The Dulung River flows close to the site and till recently, it was a very popular picnic spot and used to be crowded during the winter. However, the revelers left a debris of waste after their departure. This was affecting the environment. Hence, the government has banned this area for picnics.

There are dense forest areas which contain ancient shrines, graveyards, etc and people avoid going to those places and term them as ‘Holy Forest.’ This has been a boon to the birds and animals who thrived amid natural surroundings. The flora and fauna too, have remained intact.

Locals have actively supported the cause, volunteering and participating in public awareness campaigns. In fact, they were the ones who took the initiative and approached government officials to declare the forest stretch as a bio-diversity heritage site.