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In the age of social media, pigeongram still relevant in

Press Trust of India 

With the of social media and e-services, pigeongram may have become a thing of the past across the globe, but the continues to keep alive this unique practice.

The service was put to test yesterday when the Odisha Police, in association with the Bhubaneswar chapter of Indian National Trust for Arts and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), flew 50 pigeons at OUAT Grounds here to deliver missives of heritage conservation to Cuttack, 25km away.

The ceremony was attended by people from all walks of life, including schoolchildren from Bhubaneswar and

Former DGP and state convener of INTACH, A B Tripathy, praised the police department for preserving the age-old tradition.

The determination of the men who run India's only police pigeon service has "guaranteed the survival of a practice" that was prevalent in the Mughal era, he said.

SP (signal) BN Das said Odisha was the only state in to use to communicate among police stations.

The started in 1946 when 200 pigeons were handed over to police personnel by the on an experimental basis to communicate in areas with no wireless or telephone links, Das said.

The service was first pioneered in the mountainous district, and its success and reliability resulted in its introduction to almost all the districts of the state with over 700 sturdy Belgian ferrying messages to assigned destinations.

For years, these dependable birds have been a vital link between remote police stations, where traditional communications failed, beating storms, disasters - and birds of prey, the SP (signal) said.

The messages, written on a piece of paper, were inserted into plastic capsule and tied to the feet of the Belgian Homer Pigeons, which can fly 25 km in just 15 to 25 minutes and live up to 20 years, he added.

The service, headquartered in Cuttack, was extensively used during floods and Super Cyclone in 1999, as radio networks were disrupted, said a senior police officer, adding that the pigeon service was also the only line of to the marooned town of during the disastrous flood in 1982.

Ornithologist Panchami Manoo Ukil feels this practice needs to be preserved for the next generation to get an idea about the ancient traditions.

"Pigeon service is an art that dates back to the Mughal days. The birds delivered messages to the harems and battlefields. This unique tradition has historical significance and should be preserved," he said.

Anil Dhir, a member of INTACH, said service has generated a lot of interest among the collector's community.

"All the pigeons reached within an hour," he added.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sun, April 15 2018. 15:05 IST