Marauding jumbos make life hell for Periyapatna villagers

Marauding jumbos make life hell for Periyapatna villagers

January 10, 2018

Periyapatna: With the Forest Department temporarily calling off its efforts to drive away wild elephants from human-inhabited areas in and around Periyapatna, elephant herds have started to make a comeback  posing threat to the life and property of villagers.

Though no casualty has been reported, rogue elephants have been causing damage to crops and houses in the area. And the destruction is not a latest occurrence as wild tuskers have been spreading terror since 10 years. Villagers have blamed Forest Department officials for not acting on their pleas despite several appeals.

The most affected among the villages is Uthenahalli Village where over 75 families live with a population of over 180. All the families here depend on agriculture for their living and grow paddy, ragi, arecanut, coconut and maize.

The solar power fencing that has been laid by the Forest Department along the forest boundaries has no effect on elephants as they use tree trunks to destroy the fence and enter the fields. Also, the trenches dug by the Department five years back to prevent the entry of wild elephants to human-inhabited areas have been covered with mud due to rains, making it an easy passage to elephants.

Due to constant threat of being attacked, villagers do not come out of their houses after evening and even if they come, they come in groups. Farmer Prasanna Kumar alleged that constant raids by wild elephants in the fields has unnerved the farmers who are lamenting that standing crops raised in spite of drought-like conditions in the area were trampled and this had a telling effect on their livelihood and economy.

A farmer shows the damaged solar-powered fence laid by the Forest Department.

Five years back, the Department had dug trenches in the villages that border the forests including Alaluru, Bekkased, Anechowkur, Malangi, Neralakuppe, Kadamanahalli and Kolave villages. Due to rain, top soil from the forests has entered the trenches partially filling them, proving them ineffective.

Villagers alleged that Range Forest Officer Girish never responds to calls and whenever elephants raid the fields, he passes on the buck to his higher officers. Villagers Chennabasappa, Surendra, Naganna and Sakamma also alleged that Periyapatna MLA K. Venkatesh supports Girish and does not take him to task for his laxity.

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Showing the extent of damage, villagers said that while they have invested thousands of rupees on seeds and growing crops, the Forest Department pays a paltry compensation of Rs. 500 per acre and that too after running from pillar to post.

Since the last two years, a few forest areas have been handed over from Wildlife Division to Reserve Forest Division and the compensation issue is looked after by the Wildlife  Division, said Assistant Conservator of Forests Hunsur  Division Somappa.

“If we have to totally prevent the entry of elephants, we have to go for rail fencing and this needs a lot of money and manpower. Many times we have written to higher officers and there has been no response. However, we will do whatever comes under jurisdiction to prevent elephant menace,” he said.


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