Lok Adalat for return of land to elephants

Lok Adalat for return of land to elephants

Increasing jumbo, human deaths force relook into viable solution

Lok Adalat for return of land to elephants

The Lok Adalat’s radical dep­arture in favouring tak­eover of land, not for industrialisation as has been in vogue, but to return it to nat­ure, comes in the wake of the intensifying man-animal conflict that has seen wild animals, mainly elephants, entering human habitations, as happened in Mysore on Wednesday.

The convergence of views between Forest Department officers and Lok Adalat members Justice N K Patil, High Court judge and A N Yellappa Reddy, member and former IFS officer, came at the Adalat sitting on Saturday that discussed restoration of elephant corridors, including in Alur taluk in Hassan district.

The taluk has turned into an island for both humans and elephants.
The electrocution of three elephant calves in January this year, the continued crop damage and around 33 human deaths in the Doddabetta forest at Alur in the last decade, has forced the department to look for a permanent solution to the problem.  Alur is located in the backwaters of the Gorur dam built across the Hemavati river, breaking the link between the forest chain.

As many as 1,300 acres of reserve forest was submerged some 40 years ago. The population of elephants has dwindled to 27 from 40.  Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests M H Swaminath said two elephants from Alur were translocated to Nagarhole earlier this year. But the experiment did not work and the elephants returned to Alur. 

“The department is planning to either locally shift the entire jumbo population to a larger area or consolidate the fragmented elephant corridor,” he said. However, Yellappa Reddy asked the department not to venture into translocation.

He suggested that the encroached elephant habitat be reclaimed by the department. Principal secretary, forests, Kaushik Mukherjee said the backwaters were surrounded by private coffee and tea plantations.

“Acquiring this land will be very expensive. We will have to furnish a budget to the Centre seeking funds for this purpose,” said Mukherjee.

Reddy suggested the department had rather acquire these plantations. 

Yellappa Reddy also suggested the forest department “create a corridor between Alur and Bisle, near Kukke Subramanya.” Reddy added that the department should acquire land wherever the elephant corridor in the State has been fragmented, and restore the habitat back to the beasts, to put an end to the man-animal conflict.

Officials said the department would require Rs 400 cr to restore the corridors— from Aneka to Nagarahole.  Karnataka has around 6,000 elephants in a habitat covering 6 lakh hectares in Kodagu, Mysore, Chamarajanagar, Ramanagara, Bangalore, Hassan, Chikmagalur and Uttara Kannada.

Thirty-five deaths due to elephant attacks were reported in the State in 2010-11.

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