Mining is indispensable to meet the growing needs of energy and raw materials.In our part of Western Odisha, there is huge deposits of Coal, Iron ores, Lime stones, etc, and thus the huge numbers of mining activities fulfilling the needs of thermal powerplants, steel, and cement industries of the state and the country. Mining activities as mentioned above are indispensable but the rising level of pollution, damage to the flora and fauna, and finally turning the area into a ghost city after the excavation of resources is over, is another concern that can not be overlooked. However, development should always be sustainable and one of my friend Sri Pratyush Panda always insists which finally I got convinced when I saw some of the initiatives in our area by one industrial house. Seeing my curiosity ,he arranged a site visit to Limestone mines of ACC cement at Dungri mines of Bargarh.
On 20th of Feb 2021,along with Sri Ashish Pradhan and two other bird lovers of Chadhei Club who had documented nesting of Oriental Flycatber, a beautiful bird that migrates to the Dungri forests from Chattishgarh, we four reached to Dungri Guesthouse at 8 PM.Dungri guest house is around 10 KMs from Ambabana and 50 KMs from Bargarh. Located under the deep canopy of greenery the area is a perfect paradise for many species of birds and animals. The guesthouse and colony of ACC staffs too are surrounded by greenery matching not less to any cottages of a wildlife sanctuary.After having dinner ,we went for sighing of any nightjars , a bird species plentily available in this area. Fortunately saw a few in the night, just near the guesthouse. After brief planning and discussion with the Geologist and Mining Manager of the site for the next day’s visit to mine we were told about a Butterfly garden they have started which is a commendable step by them.Sri Ashis who had documented different species of butterflies, readily agreed to help them if needed for the butterfly project.
At around 10 AM, next day we along with the geologist went to the mines.Taken over by ACC in 2004 from the eastwhile IDCOL ,the mine no 5 was already closed since 2003.Other mines were functional.The no5 mine, after excavation was supposed to be handed over to state and the pit was to be filled back with sand.The result would have a barren piece of land.Thus the idea of sustainable development stepped in.The pit was not handed over but was filled with water.The regular water cess and cess for the land was paid by company and the Water body thus created, now is a source of water for around 3 villages meeting the needs of agriculture, domestic and drinking water.The water body is a source for sprinkling and plantation drive in the mining area.Apart from this a source of drinking water for the animals and birds. Even some migratory birds are said to have been seen on this water body which we birders would love to visit again if allowed by the company in the next year.
Apart from this , the other developmental activities like medical and education and empowerment of women are in place at this site which are sustainable.One such women empowerment initiative covering 1000 women of the area by ACC trust is realy commendable which we will visit in another episode.
While returning we had been to the Butterfly garden. Although not full-fledged and yet to attract the butterfly ,the initiative can not be undermined.We offered our help if required and advised to plant some lenonnplants in the garden which attracts the butterflies.Also some salt mixed with soil inside the garden.
The idea of water body from the abandoned mines can be replicated with the other sites as well which would protect the flora and fauna of the area even after the mines were closed forever. Development with a vision for the years ahead would protect the environment and the breeding grounds of Paradise Flycatchers..the site is the original land and breeding grounds of the little beauties since ages..With a sigh of relief that the miners are yet to destroy the breeding grounds we left with a request to create more such water bodies and protect the flora-n-fauna so that the fly catchers will keep on flying beutifying your localities with their colourful plumage….KEEP CEMENTING THE RELATIONSHIP with the birds and they will TRANSFORM YOUR LIVES to a colourful one like their plumage.