CAMPA Yet to Light up Homes Along Elephant Corridors
BALASORE: With the project under Compensatory Afforestation Management Plan Authority (CAMPA) yet to get off the ground, people affected due to frequent elephant depredation in Balasore and Mayurbhanj districts are forced to remain in dark due to frequent power cuts for the protection of jumbos.
Sources said though the project plan was prepared by both the Forest Department and North Eastern Electricity Supply Company (Nesco) at a cost of `10.16 crore and tender floated for the same in Mayurbhanj district in February, no work has been initiated to protect either the animals or human habitations so far.
The project envisages strengthening of electricity infrastructure in areas affected by elephant expeditions and protection of elephant corridors. While low lying electric wires and damaged electric poles in at least 37 places were to be replaced and fixed at a safe height, covered wire was to be mounted along the road frequented by the jumbos.
As electric wires and poles are in dilapidated condition in many areas adjacent to the forests in both the districts, the Forest Department, as a precautionary measure, usually asks the electricity officials to snap power supply for days together during elephant depredation.
People alleged that power outages during summer made life miserable. Locals spend sleepless nights due to elephant menace and power cuts. This year, people in at least 60 villages have been affected by jumbo attacks.
A local from Deuli, Hrudananda Bindhani, said three tuskers wreaked havoc in the area in June this year before marching towards Kuldiha.
“The electricity was snapped as forest officials feared the elephants might be electrocuted after coming in contact with live wires. People were at the receiving end,” he said.
Villagers claimed that though the forest and electricity officials had assured locals to strengthen the power supply system in the area several times in the past, no tangible progress has been made in this regard.
Wildlife activists alleged that though CAMPA project has already been implemented in neighbouring Keonjhar district, it is yet to take off in tribal dominated Mayurbhanj district. “Though there is enough fund for the project, the delay is due to negligence on part of the officials concerned,” an activist pointed out.
Forest officials, however, feigned ignorance. Baripada DFO Sanjay Swain said he was unaware whether funds for the project have been released.