Ranchi: Rising cases of human-elephant conflicts in Jharkhand have prompted the state forest, environment and climate change department to float a new project for preservation of elephant corridors. The state ‘Gaj Pariyojana’, which is in its final stages of drafting, will be brought into effect in the next financial year. The project will focus on keeping the state’s existent elephant corridors free of human encroachment and create village level mechanisms to reduce human-animal conflicts.
“Human beings have encroached on their age-old routes. As a result, the cases of straying of elephants have increased in the recent years,” chief wildlife warden Pradeep Kumar told TOI. In 2006, the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) had identified 12 such corridors in state which open into Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Odisha and West Bengal.
Most of these corridors have witnessed human settlements and fragmented vegetation, resulting in straying of jumbos. While the encroachments continued, elephant population in the wild has grown from 624 in 2013 to 688 in 2015. “The increase in conflicts has damaged life, property and cost crores of rupees to the department in compensation,” a senior wildlife official said.
In 2015-16, 46 people died and 73 were injured in man-animal conflicts, a majority of them with elephants. The state has given Rs3.39 crore in compensation to the victims in the ongoing fiscal year. Since 2001, Jharkhand has witnessed 1,081 casualties in man-animal conflicts and 1,847 injuries and has given Rs46.81 crore in compensation in 15 years.
Kumar said while efforts will be initiated to preserve the existing corridors, village level associations will be formed to reduce damage in human-element conflicts. “The associations will be trained and armed with equipments to thwart elephant onslaughts in farm-fields and villages,” he said. That apart, the department will create district level wildlife crime control centres with its frontline forester force to check poaching and other illegal activities.
The department on Friday presented its achievements for the year 2015 under the BJP led coalition government. In its new charter, the department aims to allocate more money for keeping up the tiger conservation project in Palamu Tiger Reserve (PTR). Forest secretary Sukhdeo Singh said, “The CM had taken up the matter of changed funding pattern with Union forest minister Prakash Javdekar in his New Delhi visit. Though we will get less money under the new arrangement, more allocations will be made to continue the project”.
Late last month, the Centre had changed its funding pattern for Project Tiger. Under the new scheme, state governments will have to pool 60% of the annual project cost against previous arrangement of 50:50 cost sharing program. Jharkhand has spent Rs 3 crore under the project in PTR in the ongoing fiscal.