RAIPUR : A newly built prison in Chhattisgarh has turned into a shelter for villagers who fear for life from marauding wild elephants. Jumbos have been running amok in the villages of Bhanupratapur block of Kanker district, about 200 km south of Raipur, for the last two weeks.
Since most villagers here don't have pucca houses, they approached the authorities demanding measures to safeguard their lives. On Saturday alone, the pachyderms destroyed five huts in a village.
"As a precautionary measure we have shifted around 300 villagers from three-four villages to the jail which has been recently constructed. Temporary lights and other essential arrangements have been made for their safe stay till we ensure that the wild elephants, numbering around 22, are no longer a threat to their lives. Most of the villagers live in huts which are usually made of mud. These huts collapse when targeted by elephants which raid the villages for food," said Manish Kashyap, Kanker divisional forest officer (DFO).
Bhanupratapur sub-divisional officer (Forest) RK Rayasth told they are consistently keeping a watch over the location and movement of the jumbos.The forest department has sounded alert in several villages where elephants had recently created ruckus, forcing the occupants to flee for shelter in nearby school buildings.
Chhattisgarh is among those states where human-elephant conflicts are a perennial problem. Over 260 elephants in around 20 herds reportedly move around in different forest divisions in the state.