Panel formed to ensure free passage to Dalma jumbos


Sujoy Khanra,Times of India

Date Published

KHARAGPUR: Concerned over the alleged refusal by neighbouring Odisha and Jharkhand to allow free passage to Dalma elephants, the state forest department on Monday formed a seven-member committee to hold talks with their counterparts in these states.

A state forest official said this alleged refusal has resulted in a prolonged stay by these elephants in Bengal. This year, the jumbos killed seven villagers in West Midnapore alone, said a forest department official. The elephants’ traditional migratory routes on the Jharkhand-Bengal border and Odisha-Bengal border are being blocked by the residents of the neighbouring states to check damage there.

The decision to form the panel was taken at a high-level forest department meeting at the Hijli range in Kharagpur on Monday. The committee will be headed by the state’s chief wildlife warden Azam Zaidi. The meeting was attended by divisional forest officers (DFO) of all forest ranges in Bankura, Purulia and West Midnapore that form part of the elephant corridor in south Bengal.

Sources said the officials discussed about three methods — digging of trenches, setting up of electric poles and blowing of microphones — which are being allegedly used by Odisha residents to block the passage of elephants. DFO of Kharagpur, Anjan Guha, said Dalma elephants, that had entered Bengal in 2013, refused to return to Jharkhand and chose to stay in this part of the state.