Task Force visits Maldare

Coffee growers express their pain to task force Members

Coffee Growers said that the elephants have started consuming coffee berries. If this is not checked, then coffee growers will be in distress.

The growers aired their grievances before the Elephant Task Force constituted by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest on the direction of the High Court, to study the elephant menace, during their visit to Maldare on Wednesday.

Coffee grower Nanda Subbaiah said “the elephants were damaging banana, bamboo in the past. However, now they are feeding on coffee berries.” To prove his point, he showed the elephant dung with coffee berries in it.

Maldare resident Poovaiah said “on one hand population is on rise and on the other hand the elephant population is also increasing. However, the area covered under forest is on decline. Hence, there is elephant-human beings conflict.”

Ayyappa said “solar fence, trenches are of no use to prevent wild elephant menace in the region.

A committee member Ravindranath Kamath said that the suggestions collected from the public would be brought to the notice of the High Court. When a committee member asked whether the tribals are ready to come out of the forest, if they are given compensation, T V Ravi said “we have been residing inside the forest for four generations. We will not come out of the forest till our last breath.” Those who would like to give suggestions on the problems related to elephant menace can email to : rsuku@ces.iisc.ernet.in or ketf@yahoogroups.com

The Task Force should submit its report by April 15, said Committee Chairman Dr R Sukumaran.

Earlier, the committee members held discussion with the elected representatives and collected suggestions.

MLA M P Appacchu Ranjan said “elephants do not get food inside the forest. Hence, they come to villages. There is a need to grow bamboo, grass, and banana inside the forest.”

MLC M C Nanaiah said solar fence should be installed just like the way people have done it in South Africa and Kenya. There is a need to take the tribals who are residing inside the forest to confidence. The services of mahouts should be regularised.

Kodagu Growers Cooperative Society President M B Devaiah, senior citizen Mahabaleshwara Bhat, ZP President Shantheyanda Ravi Kushalappa, Vice-President H M Kaveri, Members Shareen Subbaiah, Vishwanath and others aired their grievances.  Task Force Chairman, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests B K Singh and members of the task force professor Ajay Mishra, B R Deepak, Ravindranath Kamath, Dr Basappanavar, elephant biologist N K Madhusudhan, Deputy Commissioner Dr N V Prasad, DFO Anand and others were present.

Committee objects

The committee member raised objection over the construction of a bridge to provide connectivity between the forest and the main road in Maldare.

He said the elephants can move easily. Reacting to it, ZP member Dhanya Rathi said “the bridge was constructed to provide basic facilities for the forest dwellers.”

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