BARGARH :Even as an elephant herd has been wreaking havoc in villages around Barapahad hill range in the district for the last eight years, the district administration and Forest Department have remained indifferent to the loss of life and properties.
A herd of 22 elephants has been entering the villages frequently. The herd had strayed into the hill range from
Hemgir forest in Sundargarh after crossing river Mahanadi in 2007. Since then, the animals have been destroying properties and killing people in villages around the hill year after year.
Every time, paddy crops are ready for harvesting, elephants sneak into villages under the gram panchayats of Uttam, Banjipali, Lakhanpur and Dungri. One Pichalu Majhi, a fisherman of Jharimuli village under Uttam gram panchayat was trampled to death by the elephants on Saturday evening. The elephants also demolished six rooms of the house of one Linga Sandha and damaged vegetable and paddy crops in the village.
Peeved over indifference of the district administration and Forest Department towards the elephant attacks, people of these villages gheraoed the office of Collector here on Monday. They demanded that the administration take up loss assessment within 24 hours and compensate them adequately. They also demanded that people whose houses have been damaged by elephants be provided with Biju Pucca Ghara Yojana (BPGY).
Following the agitation, Bargarh DFO Mihir Kumar Biswal and Additional District Magistrate Pradip Kumar Gardia held talks with them. The agitators were pacified when the DFO assured them to look into their demands.
He also agreed to take up the demand of payment of ` three lakh compensation to the family of Pichalu.