Jumbos kill 116 in Chhattisgarh in five yearsBy IANS
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
RAIPUR - As many as 116 people were killed by elephants in Chhattisgarh in the past five years and government paid Rs.1.40 crore (Rs.14 million) compensation to their families, state’s forest minister Vikram Usendi told the state assembly Tuesday.
Replying to Congress member Premsai Singh Tekam, the minister said wild jumbo menace was on the rise in the state’s vast northern forest belt.
Usendi said the government has paid Rs.1.40 crore compensation to families that lost their members in elephant attacks.
He also informed the house that there were 43,306 cases of crops being damaged and 4,837 cases of destruction of houses by elephant herds in the past five years.
The minister said Rs.5.79 crore was paid to farmers whose crops were damaged and Rs.1.08 crore to those who lost their houses.
“The government is highly concerned about rising man-elephant conflict problem in the forest areas, mainly in the northern belt comprising Surguja, Raigarh, Korba, Korea and Jashpur districts,” Usendi told the house.
He said the government has decided to put up solar-powered electric-fences in 34 villages in the first phase to keep the elephants away. The fence gives a mild shock that scares the elephants away.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government had a tough time in the assembly countering Congress charges that the ruling party has dropped the idea for Project Elephants in the Lemru forest in Korba district in a bid to offer the land to a private coal mining company.
Usendi admitted in a written statement that the state government received Rs.272.90 lakh from the central government since 2008-09 under Project Elephants.
The minister was cornered when the opposition asked him to explain how the state government got the amount when there is no such project in the state.
Ravindra Choubey, the leader of the opposition, said: “You should explain why you sent proposal to the centre in 2007 and also got approval for launching Project Elephants in Badalkhod forest belt covering Surguja and Jashpur districts and in Lemru forest in Korba district if you were not interested in giving a final nod for it.”
The minister also failed to respond to the opposition charge that the state used up the allocated fund for Project Elephants despite never notifying the project.