The state forest department has taken the initiative to prevent elephants from straying near the ghats of various rivers in Alipurduar district where thousands of devotees will congregate for Chhath Puja on Sunday evening and Monday morning.
The district has at least 10 ghats adjacent to the Buxa Tiger Reserve in Kalchini and Kumargram blocks.
Also, some other ghats in Dalsingpara and Hasimara are adjacent to the Jaldapara National Park.
Parveen Kaswan, the deputy field director (west) of BTR, said: “There are at least 10 Chhath Puja ghats in the banks of different rivers adjacent to forests. Wild elephants often move through these areas. To avoid any untoward incident on the festive days, special teams have been formed and one such team has been posted in each ghat. They will have all necessary materials to disperse the elephants.”
Chhath Puja committees, which ready the ghats for the worship, have been provided with the contact numbers of forest officers.
“The forest teams would be there. Even so, in case any wild elephant is sighted near any ghat, they can contact the officers for early intervention,” a senior forester said.
Usually, elephants reach the rivers at night or early in the morning to drink water. On Chhath, many devotees spend nights in tents and pandals at the ghats and return home after performing the puja early in the morning.
“As the devotees will carry fruits and other food items for worship, there is an added risk of elephants reaching the ghats for food. This is another reason for making these safety arrangements,” added a forester.