The unabated rise in the incidents of wild elephants straying into human settlements across the state and damaging property, apart from endangering lives, has finally been addressed by the state government. Minister for forest, environment and ecology, Ramanatha Rai, on Monday assured the state assembly that his department has chalked out a plan to find a solution for the human-animal conflict.
Recently, five people, including a photojournalist, were killed by a herd of wild elephants in Kolar district. A few years ago, two wild tuskers strayed into Mysore City and went on rampage, killing a man.
Following these incidents, MLA LA Ravi Subramanya raised the human-animal conflict issue in the assembly during the question hour. He questioned the minister about the measures taken by the state government to prevent wild elephants straying into villages.
Responding to the question, Rai clarified that a permanent solution for human-animal conflict in the state would be found within two to three years.
“As of now, we have no plan to implement the elephant corridor scheme, but a Rs100 crore comprehensive plan to prevent elephants straying into villages was prepared and efforts will be made to implement it effectively,’’ he said.
Rai also assured the members of the house that the forest department would strive hard to prevent wild elephants straying into the villages in Bangalore Rural, Mandya, Mysore, Chamarajanagar, Kodagu, Hassan and Chikmagalur districts.
“I have directed the forest department officials to ensure that the solar fences are in good condition and to strengthen them wherever necessary. The forest department officials have also taken measures to dig trenches along the border of the forests,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, MLA KG Bopaiah objected to the budgetary allocation of Rs30 crore for the year 2013-14 when he had submitted a proposal of `50 crore to protect the people of Kodagu from wild elephants.
“My department will spend the money allocated in the budget to put up solar fences and dig up trenches,’’ he said.
In addition, MLA from Malur, Manjunath Gowda, appealed Rai to include Kolar district in the proposed elephant corridor.
“It was a providential escape for me from wild elephants on June 24. I request the minister to take up concrete measures to find a solution for human-animal conflict in Kolar district,’’ said Gowda.
In the meantime, a few people were seen objecting the Rai’s decision to include some barren lands into the deemed forest category. They demanded him to withdraw his reply on the deemed forest.
“We will constitute an experts committee to identify deemed forest and file an affidavit in the Supreme Court. Our government is committed to work for the welfare of people,’’ the minister said.