Nuapada: Wildlife lovers can now savour many unexplored zones of Sunabeda wildlife sanctuary with the introduction of bus service to the picturesque forest reserve in Odisha`s Nuapada district.
The bus service has been introduced in the area to facilitate easy mobility of the forest dwellers including some primitive tribes, official sources said.
The sanctuary had been out of bounds for the tourists since 2004 following repeated Maoist attacks in the area including killings, they said.
On the inaugural journey flagged off yesterday by local MLA Rajendra Dholkiya, the bus went from the district headquarter Khariar Road to Barkot on the foothills of Sunabeda forest range, said Pravas Dubiya, Special Officer, Chakotiya Bhunjia Development Agency (CBDA).
The bus would ply from Khariar Road upto Cherichuan gate in the sanctuary, a distance of 106 km, located on a plateau of 3000 feet above the sea level, he said.
At least two tribes - Chakotiya Bhunjia and Paharaiya - besides other forest dwellers inhabit the forest range.
People belonging to at least two gram panchayats of Soshenga and Michhapali had been facing hardships due to absence of any commuting facility in the area and used to walk or trek long distances. "Introduction of the bus service will certainly a boon for them," said an official.
The Western Odisha Development Council (WDC) had provided Rs 15 lakh for the purpose, he said.
The state government had banned entry of tourists into the wildlife sanctuary, which is also a tiger project, since 2004 to ward off any threat by the Maoists.
Tiger census in the sanctuary had also remained suspended since then, official sources said.