KALAIGAON, June 17 - Man-elephant conflict has taken a serious turn in the district with the deaths of three persons during the last three months. In order to mitigate the problem, the State Forest Department has taken a number of steps to create awareness among the people.
Wild elephants also damaged 15 houses at Jharkabasti village near Uttar Garuajhar village, forcing the villagers to abandon their houses on June 13.
Presently the villagers are taking shelter in the houses of the Uttar Garuajhar villagers. Wild elephants also damaged six houses at Saotalbasti village on June 6.
Around 10 houses were damaged at Basbari village near Bhutiachang. Dilip Kumar Das, Deputy Commissioner and BJ Manta, ADC of Udalguri district have already taken a slew of initiatives. Worried over the situation and considering the gravity of the problem, the local people have sought urgent steps from the district administration side.
Meanwhile, the DC has directed the Forest Department to conduct a detailed survey of the affected villages. MK Sarma, DFO, Dhansiri Forest Division, Udalguri along with forest staff visited the locations of wild elephants and the affected villages on June 15. According to him, a herd of wild elephants numbering nearly 100 was spotted at Bhutiachang tea garden on June 15 evening. He told this correspondent that people were seen disturbing the elephants from a close range, which according to him is very dangerous. In this context, the DFO said that a 40-km-long area from Rajagarh to Kundarbil has been identified as “conflict zone” in Udalguri district. “Proposal for construction of five numbers of tangshi (concrete watch tower) in the Hatigarh-Bhutiachang area has been approved by the BTC authorities. Moreover, a man-elephant conflict control room will be opened soon to assist the public that will offer round-the-clock service. Besides, five anti-depredation squads are in the pipeline,” he said, adding that five public coordination groups will be formed each at Nonaikhuti, Rajagarh, Paneri, Santipur and Udalguri for better coordination between the public and the Forest Department. Replying to a question about rising incidents of man-elephant conflicts, he observed that the problem has been increasing due to loss of habitat. “The forest coverage has been shrinking for which elephants have started losing their habitat,” he claimed.