The eco-friendly anti-poaching camp has evoked a good response
‘Aranyaka’, the eco-friendly anti-poaching camp established at Bandipur, has evoked a positive response from the Forest Department but replicating it across all camps in the national park is doubtful.
For, the cost is proving to be prohibitive to the cash-strapped department despite the myriad benefits of the camp. Kantharaj, Conservator of Forests and Director, Bandipur Tiger Reserve, told The Hindu that there were no two opinions of the benefits of the camp and the feedback from the staff was good too. However, the costs for setting up such a facility would be almost double that of a conventional camp.
“We have 41 anti-poaching camps in Bandipur and it will be impossible to replicate the facilities provided there across all our sites manned by anti-poaching staff,” Mr. Kantharaj said. While establishing a conventional anti-poaching camp costs about Rs. 3 lakh, the eco-friendly camp costs about Rs. 8.8 lakh to Rs.9 lakh at a conservative estimate.
“It is unlikely that such facilities will be replicated at other camps unless there was a matching grant from donor agencies to meet the cost of construction,” he said.
However, Sudheer of Voice for Wildlife said the objective of ‘Aranyaka’ was to demonstrate renewable energy technology and working model.
“The camp has all renewable energy systems in one place and is a demonstration piece which is functional. What the Forest Department can do is to take individual components from this model and replicate it as per the needs of different camps. Since the department already has 41 anti-poaching camps, they need not go for constructing new ones. Instead they can integrate rainwater harvesting or smoke-free and fuel efficient cooking stoves or install solar lighting all of which does not cost much and enhance the quality of life for those posted in the camps,” he added.
The camp, reckoned to be the first of its kind in India, was set up at Avarepura in Moleyur fores range in November last year. It was a joint venture of Wildlife Conservation Trust, Mumbai and Tiger Conservation Foundation, Bandipur, and designed and implemented by the National Institute of Engineer’s Centre for Renewable Energy and Sustainable Technologies and Voice for Wildlife Trust, Mysore .
The camp was constructed using stabilised mud blocks manufactured at the camp site using locally available material and being sun-cured instead of burnt and baked, they were more eco-friendly. They also help maintain thermal comfort. In addition it also has rain water harvesting unit with an installed capacity to harvest 40,000 litres of rain water every year while the storage capacity is 9,000 litres. The construction cost was around Rs. 8.25 lakh.
In conventional camps, power supply is irregular and erratic but solar lighting installed at ‘Aranyaka’ ensured not only efficient lighting but helped the staff to recharge their communication equipment like walkie-talkie and mobile handsets which are crucial in such sensitive and critical areas such as jungle patrol and protection.
Solar lighting entailed installation of solar photovoltaic panel of 175 W capacity at a cost of more than Rs. 45,000. Energy-efficient biomass cook stoves were also installed to eliminate smoke and to reduce the use of wood while a biomass bath stove was also provided with water heating vessel.