4,000 farmers cry for help, elephants destroy ripe paddy
By our Staff Reporter
GUWAHATI, Nov 25: Around 4,000 famers in the Rani area along the Assam-Meghalaya border in West Guwahati LAC have been reaping the harvest of lack of adequate measures from the State Forest Department to check a herd of around 60 elephants that come from Meghalaya in batches and destroy ripe paddy for about a month. This being the harvesting season of paddy, the famers have been incurring a heavy loss. They are crying for help from the government that stops short of doing enough for their rescue.
Herds of elephants come from across the inter-state border and graze on the ripe paddy – both still standing ones and the ones reaped and kept in fields for drying. It seems that the pachyderms thrash the reaped and yet-to-be reaped paddy in the muddy fields, destroying them beyond recovery. Without getting the desired help from the State Forest Department, the affected farmers are at a loss. They know not what to do and how to combat the elephant mece in the area. The ill-fated farmers are from around 40 villages along the Meghalaya border. Some of the villages are Puran Sukurbaria, lapara, Joipur, Salli, Garopara, Bakrapara, Belguri, Manikpur, Moirapur, Gapati, Satargaon, Sokordou, Bongora etc.
Talking to this reporter, Sangrami Krishak-Shramik Sangha (SKSS) general secretary Dinesh Das spat fire on the Forest Department, and said: “The department is not taking preventive measures with the required promptness it should have taken to rescue the farmers and their ripe paddy from the rampant destruction by wild elephants. The poor farmers have been incurring heavy loss. In a few villages, the department has given torchlight and crackers to scare away elephants, but the quantity is idequate. A large number of affected villagers are yet to get any such supply from the department. This is not all. On the pretext of shortage of manpower, the department has not been conducting vigil in the elephant-affected areas at night.”
Das further said: “State Environment and Forest Minister Pramila Rani Brahma is busy in counting bases of felled trees that stick out like sore thumbs in the wild. She, however, is looking the other way when there are destruction of paddy and other property by elephants.”
The people in the areas are a nervous wreck. They do not dare to come out of their residences at night with the fear of attack by elephants that have a free run in the ripe paddy fields. There is every possibility of human beings falling prey to pachyderms in the fringe villages.