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Jumbo trouble earns MP ire

Hazaribagh, Dec. 3: A herd of elephants, which has been on the rampage in several villages of the district since October end, today earned the ire of Hazaribagh MP Yashwant Sinha.

Sinha accused the forest department of not having done enough to chase away the jumbos, who according to local sources have damaged 120 houses so far in different villages of Barkatha, Ichak, Tatijharia and Daru blocks and run over several hundred acres of standing crops.

In a phone call to state principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife) A.K. Malhotra, former external affairs minister Sinha highlighted the plight of hundreds of villagers who were spending sleepless nights or had migrated to neighbouring areas to escape the wrath of the elephants.

The MP who called for an immediate solution to the problem, said the pachyderms had already claimed one life and were attacking schools, temples and houses in broad daylight. He also asked Malhotra to ensure that compensation was paid to the villagers, mostly daily wage earners whose houses had been damaged, at the earliest.

“Malhotra, in his defence, stated that his department had done everything possible to save the villagers from the rampage and would start doling out compensation soon,” Anil Sinha, spokesperson for Yashwant Sinha, told The Telegraph.

Malhotra claimed that the elephants had currently dropped anchor near Ichak, close to Hazaribagh wildlife sanctuary. He said efforts were on to confine them there till the foresters found a way to drive them back to Giridih, from where they could follow a trail back through Jamtara and Dhanbad and return back to the forests of Dumka.

Ichak villager Mahesh Mahto said, the herd was targeting pumps that had been installed in the fields for irrigation particularly.

“They have damaged more than 24 pumps so far. We have stopped going to our fields and are spending our nights in government buildings,” he said.

Sources said the herd had 27 members in it and had entered the district via Bagodar of Giridih.

The foresters had called in a special team from Bengal’s Purulia to try and chase the team back to Giridih but to no avail.

“Teams have been formed in all the affected blocks to look into and settle compensation issues of the villagers. The foresters are keeping an eye on the movement of the herd,” the spokesperson said.