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The Periya-Kottiyur elephant corridor in Wayanad district of Kerala has got a new lease of life, with the state government issuing an order to go ahead with the long-pending land acquisition process.
The corridor once opened would be the free commuting zone for elephants from Wayanad forests to Kottiyur Wildlife Sanctuary in Kannur district.
The Centre for Ecological Sciences, Bengaluru, Forest Research Institute, Peechi, and the French Institute, Puducherry, had done studies on this project and suggested elephant corridors as a permanent solution to resolve man-animal conflicts.
Though the studies had suggested five other such corridors in Wayanad area, Periya-Kottiyur was given priority by officials as it was a more vulnerable area.
As per the project, the plan is to acquire 131.5 hectares, with 36.5 hectares in Kannur district and 95 hectares in Wayanad district, for the corridor, in five phases. It also involves relocating 205 families, including 171 in Wayanad and 34 in Kannur, as reported by The Hindu.
The report says that out of Rs.7.89 crore approved by the Centre in 2007, Rs.2.5 crore was handed over to the Kannur Collector and Rs 2 crore to Wayanad collector.
Though the land acquisition in Kannur district is almost over, it has been lagging in Wayanad. The Times of India report by Rajeev KR states that the revenue department additional chief secretary has directed the district collector to ask North Wayanad DFO to submit the required requisition under the new Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (LARR) Act.
The ToI report also quotes wildlife expert Dr PS Easa as saying, “Disruption of traditional elephant corridors is the main reason for increase in human-elephant conflicts. The cost of rehabilitating families should be viewed as a long-term investment for conservation which would help avoid the recurring compensation payments amounting to lakhs of rupees given annually to people affected by wildlife conflict.“
Periya-Kottiyoor is one of the 88 elephant corridor projects across the country, which facilitate the movement of elephants through their traditional migratory paths.