CUTTACK: A herd of six elephants has been creating havoc in Choudwar for the last one week destroying crops and property. The jumbos have reportedly moved into Choudwar from Kapilash forest in Dhenkanal in search of food.
Residents of Agarhat, Banipada, Shankarpur, Badasamatarapur, Indranipatana, Barhampura and Kayalpada panchayats are spending sleepless nights with elephants often coming to their villages and destroying the standing crops and property. On Saturday night, a tusker had attacked 48-year-old Sudam Behera of Oranda village while he was returning home from a nearby eatery. Fortunately, Behera managed to escape before being trampled by the tusker. The incident has added to the fears of the locals.
Similarly, the elephants entered into Dhumabati Nagar in Ward no.-17 of Choudwar municipality on Sunday night. On being informed, a team of forest officials, which rushed to the spot, had to face a tough task in driving away the elephants towards Chhatisa Pata with the help of local police. On Monday night, the jumbos strayed into Damodarpur village under Salagan panchayat and damaged Phula Pradhan’s house. They also fed on 50 bags of harvested paddy stocked inside her house. The elephants also destroyed vegetable crops and banana plantation in the area. Later, the jumbo herd moved into Barhampur panchayat and damaged the boundary wall of Swapneswar temple on Tuesday morning.
The aggrieved villagers have threatened to launch an agitation if the forest department does not take immediate step to protect their crops from the jumbos. “Around 30 to 35 elephants reside in Choudwar forest area. However, herds of elephants from Chandaka, Kapilash and Athagarh forest areas have strayed into Choudwar in search of food like ripe paddy. As a result, the number of elephants in Choudwar forest has increased to above 60. Night patrolling has been intensified with deployment of additional forest guards in the area,” said Cuttack DFO Sudarsan Patra.