BENGALURU: The state government is planning to acquire private land for its elephant corridor project at a cost of Rs 272 crore as installation of barriers has proved to be a failure in the fragmented forest habitat. It has asked the Centre to provide funds under CAMPA (Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority) scheme.
Despite capture and relocation of 22 elephants in 2013-14, Hassan district is witnessing rising incidents of human-elephant conflict. Further, with the migration of a few herds from Madikeri to Hassan, it has taken a serious turn.
Forest officials and wildlife experts say that with any capture-relocation programme, a vacuum is created and the villagers get temporary relief. However, this space once again gets occupied by a different group of wild elephants.
The migration of elephants from Somwarpet to Shanivarsanthe (Kodagu district) and further on to Bisele forests (Hassan district) is a traditional route followed for centuries. Manoj Kumar, Chief Conservator of Forests, Kodagu, said, “This is a historical migration and their routes have not been disturbed by erecting barriers. So they have been moving from Madikeri to Hassan for a long time now. In fact, barriers are not complete which are usually erected when villages fall in their pathway. However, with forests highly fragmented in the north of Cauvery region, animals are frequently straying into human settlements, often resulting in conflicts.”
On the night of June 3, a herd of elephants came on Honkaravalli Road in Saklespur. However, seeing the huge crowds on both sides of the road, one elephant picked up Arun Kumar, a resident of Hyduru village, Alur taluk, and threw him on the ground. He succumbed to his injuries on June 4 and the government announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh even as villagers launched a protest. In the last few months, the conflict situation has escalated.
In this background, the government has decided to acquire 2,400 acres of land for its corridor project in the Western Ghat- bound Hetturu hobli. In fact, people have given their acceptance to this proposal as they have been facing rampaging herds in their agricultural fields and even households.
Recently, Forest Minister Ramanath Rai informed the Assembly that the state government had written to the Centre seeking `272 crore under the CAMPA scheme for tackling the conflict issue in Hassan district.
Carving out a corridor
Elephant corridor will be carved in the middle as well as on the fringes of the forest in Hassan district Wherever wild elephants have been traversing in isolated, small pieces of land in Hetturu hobli, efforts will be made to acquire these patches too so that there is no hindrance to the free movement of elephants.