Locals seek their immediate relocation. Forest Department keen to send them to a zoological park. The farmers should stop growing banana and sugarcane crops: Forest Department.
A herd of elephants damaged a house and paddy crop in Chintamanuguda village of Kotturu Mandal, in Srikakulam District in the early hours of Wednesday. The loss is estimated to be around Rs.65,000, according to villagers.
The locals feared that the wild animals would cause more damage in villages as they could not find water and eatables in the thicket due to summer season. The elephants recently destroyed paddy and banana crops in Mohan Colony and Mukundapuram village of Seethampet mandal. The animals killed one villager Murali in Padali area of Hiramandalam mandal six months ago.
Seven deaths occurred with their attacks in the last few years. The loss of crop was more than Rs.1 crore in the last one decade. The locals alleged that revenue officials were not coming forward to assess the damage since they had to pay compensation.
The elephants entered Andhra region from Lakheri Forest of Odisha seven years ago. They did not go back to their native forest area due to availability of abundant water and food in Palakonda region. The Government announced ‘Operation Gaja’ following uproar from locals over the frequent attacks and devastation of agriculture fields. Digging a trench was proposed, but the execution of project was stopped due to non-availability of funds.
Attacks and damages have become order of the day in many villages of Palakonda, Kotturu, Hiramandalam areas with the inordinate delay in the relocation of elephants. The Forest Department proposed to send them to one of the zoological parks to prevent damages in the district.
“We recently wrote to the Union Government for its consent on sending the four elephants to a zoological park. The department can take up further action only when the Government accepts the proposal,” said a senior official of the Forest Department.
“Meanwhile, the farmers should stop growing banana and sugarcane crops. Otherwise, the elephants continue to enter paddy fields and habitations,” he added.