Man-animal conflict: Forest staff to be deployed near polling booths

1,216 polling stations across state identified to be under areas prone to wild animal attacks
Representative image
Representative image

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM : Aimed at instilling a sense of safety among voters and polling personnel deployed in human-wildlife conflict-prone areas, forest department personnel will be stationed from the eve of polling day on Friday till the close of polling to ward off wild animals.

Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Sanjay Kaul told TNIE that the deployment of forest department personnel in and around sensitive booths is a first-of-its-kind measure in the state taking into account the recent spurt in wild animal attacks.

“A total of 1,216 polling stations across the state have been identified to be under areas prone to wild animal attacks. Of these, majority of the polling stations (576) are in Wayanad, followed by Pathanamthitta (256), and Malappuram (104),” the CEO said. The forest department had earlier identified 281 panchayats as areas prone to human-wildlife conflicts.

Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Head of Forest Force Ganga Singh told TNIE that all field officers were instructed to assign the charge of a cluster of polling booths to Rapid Response Teams (RRTs) who will attend to emergency issues.

“Circle-level control rooms have been instructed to compile and report any human-wildlife conflict to the state-level control room at the forest headquarters on an hourly basis on the election day and the previous day till all the procedures are completed,” Singh said.

According to Singh, field officers of the department will be constantly patrolling in and around the booths. He added that RRTs have begun conducting mock drills around the booths identified from Wednesday.

In the case of highly inaccessible terrain, forest department personnel will clear the route taken by polling parties and also escort them on their way back.

Special patrolling will be conducted during early morning and late evening hours when wild animals generally venture into human habitations, Singh added.

Key hours focused

Special patrolling will be conducted during early morning and late evening hours when wild animals generally venture into human habitations

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