Bhubaneswar: The 72-year old Odisha Police Pigeon Post Service, considered to be oldest and probably the only active official pigeon service in the world, is soon to get heritage tag as INTACH has started taking interest in it.

The Bhubaneswar chapter of Intach in association with the Odisha Police organized a pigeon flight service ceremony here on the occasion of  Maha Bishuba Sankranti and Odia New Year on Saturday. As many as 23 homing pigeons carrying missives (Pigeongram) with the message of eye donation completed their flight covering nearly 25 kms from Bhubaneswar to Cuttack on the occasion.

Set up in 1946, Odisha Police Pigeon Service has consistently rendered valuable services during during emergencies. During the devastating 1999 Super Cyclone, when the formal communication network collapsed, messenger pigeons proved effective in sending messages.

Even in the age of modern communication days, the Odisha police has been able to keep date with pigeon post and continues to train domestic pigeons as messengers. This pigeon mail services is also displayed during the Independence Day and Republic Day parades and also during major events of the state police.

The Odisha Police communication wing has pigeon training centres at  Cuttack, Chhatrapur, Kendrapara, Sambalpur and Dhenkanal.

According to additional SP, communications, Pradeep Kumar Mishra, the pigeons used in the service belong to the species which were widely used for spying and delivering messages during the Second World War.

“These pigeons are imparted special training. Before commencing a flight, these birds are generally fed and also made to drink potash water so that they can fly non-stop to their destination and do not stop anywhere else to take food.”