One year on, solar fencing still incomplete - Elephants enter villages bordering Barpahad forest through unfenced areas
Read more below
- Published 24.06.11
|File picture of elephants in Barpahad forest.|
Balangir, June 23: The ambitious project of solar fencing, taken up by Sonepur forest division in the Barpahad reserve forest to minimise human-animal conflict, has run into troubled waters as the project remains incomplete even after a year of its launch.
Taking advantage of the open space, herds of elephants are still venturing into villages that border the forest, often causing damage to life and property. Residents of these villages bordering the Barpahad forest allege elephants were often found straying into the villages in search of food and water through the open space where the solar fencing has not been done.
Sonepur forest range sources said that the solar fencing had been taken up along the 102km perimeter of the Barpahad reserve forest early last year and 49km of solar fencing work had been completed. However work on the remaining 53km could not be done because of a fund crunch leaving the area open for elephants to stray into nearby villages.
“The elephants are eying the water bodies of the village this summer and the local residents are not allowing old persons and women to go to the village pond to fetch water,” Ramjee Sa, a member of the Vana Surakshya Samiti (VSS), said.
Loisingha forest officer Sankirtan Nag said that a herd of 25 elephants, which were earlier in Barapahar forest, were now roaming in the villages of the Loisingha forest area causing widespread fear. “The elephants frequent the ponds during daytime and settle near the water bodies after sunset,” Nag said. Though they have been receiving complaints from the villagers, they can do little in the absence of technical knowledge to handle the elephants.
The villagers have been facing this problem for the past few weeks. This comes at a time when there is severe water crisis. The villagers are now depending on wells and bore-wells, which are drying up fast. Light showers in the last few days have failed to help much.
Divisional forest officer (DFO) of Balangir Raj Kishor Sahu admitted that elephants from Barpahad were straying into the adjoining villages through the areas where solar fencing have not been taken up. “I have sent a proposal to take up 27km of solar fencing of the Barpahad forest that fall in the Balangir division. There would not have been any problem had fencing been taken up in both the divisions simultaneously,’’ the DFO said.
Spread over 4658.70 hectares, Barpahad reserve forest in Sonepur district is home to 28 elephants, says the forest department.