Tusker trauma returns to haunt Ajara villagers (India)


Times of India

Date Published

The people of Alyachiwadi in Ajara taluka continue to live in fear of elephant attacks as a tusker damaged paddy crops in the village on Thursday, barely 24 hours after a similar act in the same area.

The partially grown paddy saplings were planted recently by the farmers, who have now stopped their routine guard at the fields fearing possible attack by the tusker.

After the animal attacked the damaged the saplings on Wednesday, the farmers had returned to work the following day because the current weather is favourable for planting the paddy saplings. ButThursday’s attack by the tusker left the farmers in a state of shock.

Tukaram Munde, a farmer from Alyachiwadi, is unhappy with the forest department following the frequent animal attacks. Farmers Shankar Madbhagat and Maruti Madbhagat have also lodged complaints with the range forest office.

Assistant conservator of forest (Kolhapur) U G Kshirsagar said, “The forest department has the provision of compensating the farmers immediately. Range forest officers will assess the damage based on the farmers’ complaints. Once the report is finalised, we will release the compensation.”

There have been 92 cases of elephant raids in fields in the district in recent past, where Rs 7,48,684 have been paid to farmers as compensation. Between April 1 2015 and March 31, 2016, there have been 1,012 cases of elephants damaging paddy, sugarcane, maize and banana plantation. The forest department has paid Rs 40,92,766 as compensation.

Farmers from Ajara, Chandgad and Gadhinglaj tehsils have in the past staged agitation many times. But barring some minor measures, no effective decision has been taken so far.

The challenge the forest department faces is that the elephants are not from the area. Most elephants in Kolhapur district are from forest areas of Karnataka and they crossed the inter-state boundary in search of food.