SILCHAR: A herd of wild elephants has been wreaking havoc in different areas of the Patharkandi assembly constituency in Assam’s Karimganj district for the past few days, sparking panic among people.
According to local residents of different villages in Patharkandi, four elephants have trampled croplands and paddy fields and damaged houses in areas including Hatikhira, Akaidum and Indurail (around 40-45km from Karimganj town) over the past few days. This has resulted in fear among the local people, mostly farmers and tea garden workers, locals said.
“This is not the first time that the elephants are causing havoc in these areas. In the past too, the jumbos had destroyed houses and arable lands in different areas of Patharkandi,” a local resident said.
Another resident alleged that even though the matter was brought to the notice of the authorities many times in the past, no step was taken. Earlier, there were nine elephants in the herd and five of them died in the past few years, the resident said.
Another local resident said the jumbos usually remain in the hilly areas of Sephenjuri near the Indo-Bangladesh border and often stray out from their habitat and go on a rampage in the residential areas in search of food. Though people have been demanding that the animals be caught and sent to a protected place like a national park or a wildlife sanctuary, the authorities have not paid any heed yet, the resident rued.
Sources said some forest officials apprised MLA Krishnendu Paul about the situation after Paul visited Hatikhira last week and requested him for help. Paul then communicated with district forest officer T. Basanthan following which Patharkandi forest ranger Manoj Kumar Das toured Hatikhira with a team of forest officials to scare away the jumbos. The forest officials also conducted a survey to find out the people whose crops and paddy fields were destroyed by the elephants in the past few weeks, the sources said.
Patharkandi MLA Krishnendu Paul told EastMojo on Tuesday that he would speak to the forest department and check what can be done to solve the issue permanently.
Forest minister Parimal Suklabaidya said necessary steps would be taken regarding the matter soon.
It may be mentioned that a 58-year-old man Shatrugna Balmikdas was trampled to death by a wild elephant in Medli tea garden in Patharkandi last month. Besides, many other men and pet animals like cows, calves and goats have been killed and hundreds of bighas of paddy fields and croplands destroyed by the elephants in different areas of Patharkandi in the past four to five years.
Despite frequent activities by the jumbos, the authorities never succeeded in getting a long-term solution. The forest department had tried various methods to ward off the jumbos in the past, but none was found to be effective.
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