GUWAHATI: Fed up with frequent elephant depredation at its Narengi Cantonment in Guwahati, the Army has petitioned the Assam government asking it to either relocate the wild jumbos or compensate for the damages.
In a July 3 letter to the then Chief Secretary Kumar Sanjay Krishna, Major General Jarken Gamlin, who is the Commanding Officer of the Narengi Military Station, wrote that the government should consider relocating the elephants which stray out of the adjoining Amchang Wildlife Sanctuary.
“I am writing to apprise you about the damages being caused due to elephant depredation in military station Narengi. It is a logistic hub for the Northeast. There are a large number of vital assets that have been created for the storage of logistic essentials. These infrastructure assets are frequented by elephants and they are causing substantial damage not only to infrastructure but also to critical logistic stores,” Gamlin had written.
He said the frequency of the “attacks” had increased in the last six months resulting in losses of around Rs 15 lakh. Environment activist Rohit Choudhury had received a copy of the two-page letter through the Right To Information application recently.
To avoid the damages due to elephant depredation and safeguard the critical assets, the Army had in 2002 put up iron spike barricades but these had to be removed in 2019 due to protests by the citizens and the forest department.
Gamlin said the depredation had increased since the removal of the barricades. There have been incidents where unsuspecting soldiers and the members of their families were attacked by the animal, he wrote.
“The only workable option available to my mind is to relocate these elephants. It is requested that the forest department of Assam may please be instructed to relocate these elephants, especially three elephants which caused maximum damage. In case relocation is not a feasible proposition, the State may consider paying compensation for the losses being incurred since regularisation of such losses so frequently are subject to scrutiny by the audit authority,” the Army officer’s letter further reads.
The 78.64 sq km Amchang Wildlife Sanctuary has an estimated 40 elephants and they often stray out in search of food.