SAMBALPUR: At least 40 members of eight tribal families of Betapada, a small hamlet of Brahmani village in Mochibahal gram panchayat under Rairakhol Forest Division, have been rendered homeless after a herd of elephants damaged their houses.
The displaced families are on lookout for shelter for the last eight days after they were forced to leave their homes due to the elephant invasions. Surprisingly, the Forest Department is yet to provide any assistance to the homeless families.
The elephants first damaged a house in the hamlet on July 6 evening following which all the eight families fled their abodes on July 7. Most of them have been staying in the houses of their relatives in nearby villages.
However, the marauding pachyderms continued to invade the hamlet and since then, have damaged houses of all the eight families.
One of the villagers Laba Sabar (62) said most of them work as daily wagers to sustain their families. However, as the elephants have damaged their houses as well as the stored paddy and rice, they are in a dilemma over their future, he said.
Another villager Basanti Sabar (50) said she and her family left their house in fear of the marauding elephants. The jumbos damaged the house on Thursday in their absence. ''Now we have taken shelter under a tree,'' she said.
The villagers also alleged that though the elephants have invaded the hamlet more than five times in the last eight days, the Forest Department is yet to take any step in this regard. ''The Forest staff are advising us to leave the village instead of chasing away the elephants,'' they alleged.
Divisional Forest Officer, Rairakhol SK Behera said he is yet to get any written complaint from the villagers. ''We will provide compensation after receiving application from the affected families,'' he said and added that Forest staff have been sent to collect application from the villagers.
Behera further informed that steps have been initiated to chase away the elephants. The jumbos are getting attracted towards the hamlet because of presence of 'Handia' (Rice Beer) and parboiled rice in homes, he added.