Forest dept seeks relocation of people (Idukki District, India)


The Times of India

Date Published

Idukki: As per a fresh proposal by the forest department, there is no way other than relocating the people, living adjacent to the forest areas, to escape the tusker menace.

The suggestion with regard to the settlement in 301 Colony at Anayirankal here, has been put forth by Munnar divisional forest officer (DFO) Narendra Babu before the chief wildlife warden. The proposal is now under the consideration of the state government.

“Sinkukandam and Chinnakkanal areas, near Anayirankal, are prone to elephant menace. The only solution is to relocate the people of the colony. We hope the government would respond positively to the proposal at the earliest,” said chief wildlife warden K J Varghese.

The proposal also recommends that steps should be taken to turn over 500 hectares of eucalyptus plantation that borders the forest into wildlife habitat.

Around 301 families had settled down at Anayirankal here between 2001 and 2005, hence the name 301 Colony. However, majority of the people have migrated from here after tusker menace became rampant and only 13 families live here now.

In Munnar and Marayoor, 11 and 24 tuskers respectively entered human inhabited areas. “Capturing the wild elephants won’t do any good. What we need to assure is that their natural paths and habitat are restored,” K J Varghese said. Earlier, the forest department had asked the government to ban speed boating inside Anayirankal dam, pointing that it affects the tuskers badly. The government is yet to take a call on this.

The initiatives by the forest department to find a respite from this menace, including employing kumki (captive and trained elephants used to tame wild ones) elephants to drive rogue tuskers back to forest, had gone futile to a large extent. The mission to tranquilize, capture and fix a radio collar on Arikompan was the latest one to go vain, with the elephant failing to respond to tranquilizer shots. The task was hence temporarily called off and the Kumkis returned to Tamil Nadu.

“Our plan was to capture Arikompan from Chinnakanal and to move him to deep forests, by installing a radio collar facility,” said the chief wildlife warden. “However, since the attempt has been foiled, we will resume the task in another month.” he added.