Jorhat, Oct. 27: The Jorhat forest division has submitted a Rs 1-crore plan to the Assam government to provide financial help to people affected by elephant depredation on the fringes of Gibbon wildlife sanctuary at Mariani in Jorhat district.
Under the proposal, those affected by elephant depredation will be given assistance in kind not to individuals or families but to communities.
The initiative is in addition to a forest department scheme under which victims are compensated according to the magnitude of damage suffered physically or damage of their houses and crops by wild animals.
Incidents of elephants straying out of the sanctuary and destroying paddy and other crops belonging to villagers and tea garden workers besides damaging houses and granaries, have been increasing over the past few years.
According to forest department sources, the sanctuary, with an area of 20.48 square km, is an ideal habitat for two to three elephants but the population of the elephants in the sanctuary has gone up to over 40 from 20 in the past nine years forcing the animals to come out of the forest frequently in search of food keeping the forest staff on their toes.
Divisional forest officer (Jorhat) N.K. Malakar told this correspondent that the plan had been prepared to offer “some kind of compensation” to people who have suffered losses because of devastation caused by wild animals (in this case elephants).
“We want the victims to get some financial relief community-wise by adopting some project or by providing the people something permanent in nature so that those residing in adjoining areas of a forest become partners in tackling the problem and assist the department in conservation efforts,” Malakar said. He said a proposal, prepared by the Mariani range of the forest department, has recently been sent to the higher authorities of the department in Dispur.
Under the proposal biogas projects and weaving/sewing machines will be provided to the affected villagers group-wise and community ponds, libraries, halls will be constructed and vocational training given to people for better livelihood.
The proposal has been made by dividing the affected people in the fringe areas into four groups. A population of about 20,000 people has been divided into four groups by constituting an eco-development committee for each group.
Each eight-member committee having the chairman from among the local people, a forest employee as its secretary and three local women members, had carried out an economic survey to know the requirements of the people affected by elephant depredation in their respective areas.