DEOGARH: In view of the large-scale destruction of standing paddy crops during this kharif season due to elephants’ intrusion in Deogarh, the district administration has sought immediate action from the Forest department to ward off the pachyderms from human habitations. Deogarh Collector Sudhansu Mohan Samal on Wednesday convened a meeting with forest officials to discuss the matter. Representatives of five gram panchayats, which have borne the maximum brunt of elephant depredation, also attended the meeting.
After reviewing the situation, the Collector asked the divisional forest officer (DFO) of Deogarh to take immediate steps to drive away the elephants from villages and disburse compensation to the affected farmers at the earliest. Sources said Suguda, Chepilipali, Badchhapal, Khileie and Baniakilinda GPs have witnessed frequent intrusion of elephants. Between June and October this year, hundreds of farmers from these GPs have applied for compensation for damage to their paddy crops by the jumbos. Since elephants continue to stray into the villages despite patrolling by forest staff, resentment is growing among villagers.
Straying of elephants into human habitations is not new in the district as most of the villages are located close to forests. However, the number of elephants entering human habitations in search of food has increased this year. During this kharif season, the local farmers claimed that they have suffered huge losses as elephants in large herds entered agriculture fields to graze on standing paddy crops.
Deogarh DFO Khyama Sarangi, who visited Suguda GP to take stock of the situation, admitted that the elephants have caused extensive damage this year. “Special teams have been formed to monitor the movement of elephants and chase them away from human habitation. We have decided to seek help from villagers to keep the elephants away. The Vana Suraksha Samiti will involve villagers to guide the elephants into the forest. Besides, there are plans to dig elephant trenches,” Sarangi said.
The DFO further informed that the Forest department has received a large number of applications for compensation from farmers whose crops were damaged by elephants. “We are working on faster disbursal of the assistance,” Sarangi added.
According to the reports available with Deogarh forest division, 1,757 applications for crop damage compensation were received till Wednesday. These apart, 74 applications were received for house damage, seven for injuries and three for death caused by elephants.
A compensation of around Rs 27.81 lakh has already been sanctioned to 770 affected farmers for crop damage on 264.86 acre of land. Besides, Rs 4 lakh has been sanctioned for 25 partly and 35 completely damaged houses. While Rs 5,000 has been provided to a person injured in elephant attack, Rs 8 lakh has been issued for two victims killed by the jumbos.