TANGLA, April 11: The Udalguri district administered by Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) has seen a steady rise in human-elephant conflict (HEC) over the past decade. It is one of the worst affected region which has recorded as many as 81 human deaths in the past five years in Udalguri district alone. What adds to the woes of victimized families is the legal procedure that one has to go through visiting offices and also queuing up for their turn to receive ex-gratia compensation. A total of 25 families, whose kin were trampled to death by wild elephants, received ex-gratia compensation cheques. While 18 families received cheques of Rs 1 lakh each, seven families received cheques of Rs 4 lakh each. Meanwhile, 19 families whose kin were injured also received cheques in range of Rs 12,000 to Rs.25,000 each at an awareness meet-cum-ex-gratia distribution programme here at Garuajhar in Udalguri district on Tuesday.
The programme was attended by State Forest and Environment Minister Pramila Rani Brahma. Speaking on the occasion, she said, “To resolve the burning issue of man-elephant conflict we need to stop the rampant destruction of forests. The encroachment of forest land and elephant corridors has forced the wild animals to stray into human habitation leading to man-animal conflict.”
Brahma further said, “We have to resolve the issue by joining hands and taking up afforestation drives. For cutting a single tree, we have to plant 10 saplings which will go a long way in resolving the issue.”
She further proposed of the idea of erecting solar fences near settlements of vulnerable zones so as to prevent elephants from entering. She also informed of taking up projects to establish a number of watch-towers to track the movement of pachyderms. The programme, where DFO of Dhansiri forest division, Madhurya Kumar Sarma, delivered key-note speech, was iugurated by Panery MLA Kamali Basumatari.
State PHE, Food and Civil Supply Minister Rihon Daimari participated in the event as appointed speaker. In his speech, he pointed out various strategies to tackle the issue and also interacted with the locals for their suggestions. Participating on the occasion, senior jourlist Samudra Gupta Kashyap also spoke on the issue of man-elephant conflict in Udalguri. He lauded the effort of villagers of six villages on the Assam-Bhutan-Aruchal border at Bhairabkunda in Udalguri who successfully regenerated a stretch of barren sandy forest land. The results of this quiet community initiative done under joint forest magement (JFMC) are evident with the regenerated forest expense of 5,500 bigha already emerging as a shelter of wild animals and birds.
“Such initiatives should be adopted by people across the country,” he added. The senior jourlist also pointed out that besides wild elephants, wild boars and monkeys had also attributed to loss of human lives in Udalguri district along the Indo-Bhutan border in the recent past and strategies had to be formulated to tackle them.