Chhattisgarh government’s inaction causes two more deaths in tusker attack (India)


Rashmi Drolia, Times of India

Date Published
RAIPUR: In gory tusker attack, two men were mauled to death by elephants in Surajpur and Koriya districts of north Chhattisgarh when herd of tuskers barged into residential areas, damaging about 70-80 houses in last one month. 
Mutilated bodies in pieces were found near the deceased homes. Even as northern parts of state are terrorized with frequent incidents of tusker attack, Chhattisgarh government remains passive and suffice the loss of life and property with compensation, but without any concrete solution. Both the incidents took place post midnight when the locals were asleep at Kasbahara village located at Marwahi-Koriya border and Bansipur village at Surajpur. 
Deceased were identified as Tejman Khairwar and Maneshwar whom tuskers crushed into pieces. According to Rambahadur Singh, a local of Kasbahar said that on spotting herd of 18 elephants in the region two days ago, locals had informed forest department but no action was taken. 
“If forest officials would have tried to drive away elephants towards forest, Tejman would have been alive. Over a dozen houses were destroyed by three elephants when the village was deep in sleep. They come here in search of food,” Rambahadur said. 
At Surajpur’s elephants in large number had been damaging houses and crops from last one month. Villagers said that all of them waited for whole night for forest department and police officials after Maneshwar was killed but officials turned up only when the locals cordoned off national highway near Bansipur in protest. 
Talking to TOI, Naveed Shujauddin, DFO Surajpur said that elephants in large number have migrated from Jharkhand and refuse to return in presence of sugarcane farming there. “A large patch at Surajpur was identified as part of elephant corridor project which is pending since long. Forest has been conducting training sessions for locals on how to remain safe during movement of elephants, spreading awareness and forest staff goes out on patrolling everyday.” 
Despite continuous reporting by TOI on the issue, state government turned blind eye to the human-elephant conflict and had introduced ‘Gajaraj Pariyojna’ last year which is still in papers. According to a report of Green peace India, “conflicts in state has increased many folds but state government seems more keen on mining in the forests than notifying the proposed Lemru Elephant Reserve or taking any concrete steps to manage the conflict despite warnings and protests.” 
It said that human deaths due to elephant attacks have also increased eight times, to an average of 25 deaths a year since 2005. According to the report, 14 elephants died due to electrocution between 2005 and 2013 and caused 198 human deaths. 
The state recorded 8,657 incidents of property damages and 99,152 incidents of crop damage between 2004 and 2014. Total compensation paid towards human-elephant conflict has amounted to Rs. 2,140.20 lakh during this period.