Trenches Dug up on Jumbo Paths to Check Intrusion (Rourkela, India)


New Indian Express

Date Published

ROURKELA:  Trenches are the new weapons in the hands of forest officials of Sundargarh  district to fight elephant intrusion.

After getting partial success from solar fencing and other preventive measures, the forest officials are now digging up trenches to secure Rourkela city and its fringes from the giant animals.

Elephants enter the city mostly from northwest direction from their temporary habitats in Kamarpahar and Brahmani reserve forests under Kuanrmunda range after crossing river Koel.

Forest officials have cut off routes used by elephants in Kamarpahar reserve forest by digging 4.3-km trench and similar plans are afoot for Brahmani reserve forest. The trenches are 2.5 metres in depth with lower width of 1.5 metre and upper width of three metres.

Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) of Rourkela, Sanjeet Kumar said ‘elephant-proof’ trenches would arrest intrusion of elephants from the two reserve forests to the city and fringe areas including Vedvyas, Pradhanpali, Bandhposh and Tumkela. He said Rs 40 lakh has been received from Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) for trench cutting and more funds are likely to be received in 2016-17.

On the other hand, solar fencing has been completed on 15 km stretch from Pradhanpali to Tumkela along river Koel after elephants entered the city twice in 2013. Also, two large water bodies have been dug up on the border regions of Rourkela, Bonai and Bamra forest divisions and Chirubera reserve forest of Bisra range near Jharkhand border to keep the animals within forests.

They usually venture into human habitations in search of water and food. As many as 99 solar-powered street lights have been installed at vulnerable entry points of elephants across 14 villages of the division and 20 more villages will be covered soon.  The DFO said as of now, an active herd of eight elephants is present in Mahipani reserve forest of Bisra range and another group of 16 elephants is holed up in Patipahar of Bimitrapur range, while three tuskers are in Kuanrmunda range.

Last year, the district reported 21 human casualties of which, Rourkela forest division accounts for at least 10 deaths.

Three years back, the division had paid more than Rs one crore as compensation for damage to properties or loss of human life due to elephant attacks.