Bhubaneswar: The state government has sanctioned Rs 1.21 crore under the Management of Elephant Corridors project in Dhenkanal district to minimise man-animal conflicts in the region.
More than 90 per cent of the 8 ranges under Dhenkanal Forest Division is affected due to elephant movement and man-animal conflicts. Elephants often come out of their habitat in search of water and food, and many fall victim to attacks, fall in wells or die on train tracks. Farmers, too, are affected. Many reportedly don’t grow crops fearing elephant attacks.
Protection camps and water bodies will be set up inside the corridor. Solar street lights will also be installed and the affected forest dwellers provided alternative sources of livelihood. “We have identified several important corridor points, including Barabanka near Saranga and some places in Kamakshyanagar, for the first phase of work. We are planting various saplings to be consumed by elephants in the corridor areas,” Sudarshan Patra, Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) told the media.
‘Much More Needed’
Activist Ranjan Panda welcomed the decision. He told OdishaBytes, “The Odisha government should ensure that the remaining corridors are not given away for any development purposes such as roads and mining.”
Panda said that plants, which will serve as fodder for elephants, should be selected with proper understanding and research. “At many places in the world, man-elephant conflicts have been tackled by planting species like chillies and creating fruit gardens on the elephant passages. The forest department should look into these options as well,” he said.
The activist stressed the need for community involvement in the entire project. “Local people should be consulted before taking any action,” he said.
“Further, underpasses and overpasses in areas where roads and railway lines are already constructed should be done. Crop insurance schemes have to strengthened and integrated with the compensation for human lives lost in elephant attacks,” he added.