Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Khurda, Nov 14:
After a massive drought severely affected paddy crops in Odisha’s Khurda District, now it is the turn of wild elephants to damage the rest.
About 20-25 elephants from Chandka elephant sanctuary are wreaking havoc at many villages of the district near Hazaripur jungle. While the villagers are attempting all possible traditional methods to drive away the elephants, nothing seems to have worked for them so far.
The helpless farmers have approached the Forest Department to seek help. But the officials have allegedly turned a blind eye too.
“We lost most of our crops in drought. Whatever we managed to save because of irrigation, the elephant herds are destroying that. They eat the crop and thump around the field damaging the rest,” said Keshab Sundaray, whose paddy field had been destroyed by the herd.
“It is too much for us. About 10-12 villages here are badly affected. Unfortunately, the officers of Forest Department do not listen to our complaints. If nothing works, we would have to take a call on our own,” said another villager Goura Jujharsingh, who obviously was hinting toward taking an extreme step to stop the visiting herds from coming to the villages.
Khurda Forest Range Officer Dillip Rout, however, had a different version to say.
“As per reports, there are about 18-20 elephants roaming around Hazaripur jungle. They usually get divided into three separate herds at night and move to different villages and damage paddy crops there. We already have formed a squad that trails them and monitors their activity. These squad members also work with the villagers to scare the elephants away by exploding crackers and flashing light to their eyes. Besides, we would prepare a report on the damages and request the state government to issue compensation to the affected farmers,” said Rout.