Team to tackle Kodagu’s ‘elephantine’ problem

Stray wild elephants seen in the coffee plantations in Kodagu.

After the final round of training, the poll personnel who have been assigned booths in the urban areas are thanking their stars

They find themselves being put as far away from the problem of jumbos as possible in the district.

The election in the Kodagu – Mysore Lok Sabha constituency is scheduled on April 18 and polling will be held in 543 booths in Kodagu. Nearly 61 polling booths have been identified as being in urban areas. Of the 482 in rural areas, 144 booths have been identified as being located in regions with reports of human-elephant conflict.

‘Summer effect’

With the mercury level soaring and ponds, streams and lakes in the forests going dry, wild elephants have been venturing out of the forests in search of water. Plants in many coffee plantations have destroyed by such thirsty wild elephants.

Recently too, a wild elephant fell into a lake in a coffee plantation in Napoklu and had to be rescued by the Forest Department staff. Another elephant was rescued from a pond in Palangala a week ago. Five wild elephants fell into a pond on Tuesday night and were rescued in spite of stiff resistance from locals.

The polling officials, therefore, have been apprehensive about their posting in Siddapura, Nelyahudikeri, Madapura and Bhootanakadu areas, which have witnessed increased movement of wild elephants.

Control team

Realising a need to keep special vigil on the polling booths located in the regions affected by human-elephant conflict, the district administration has decided to deploy a wild elephant menace control team.

The need for such a team was felt to ensure that the election process was not disrupted by the wild elephants.

In addition, a 24x7 control room will be set up by the Forest Department. Necessary arrangements had been made to carry the EVM and VVPAT machines to the polling booth and bring them back to the strong room.

The district SVEEP Committee has been motivating voters residing in the places affected by human-elephant conflict, to cast their votes without any fear.

“If an elephant is sighted, the voters will inform the Forest Department. The Rapid Response Team will be alerted and take immediate action to provide all assistance to the voters,” sources said.

Vehicles rented to ferry disabled

After polling, the mustering process will be organised at St Joseph convent in Madikeri and on the Government Junior College premises in Virajpet on April 17. The mustering centre will be provided with a tight security. There are 3,090 voters with disabilities in Kodagu.

The district administration has rented 70 autorickshaws and 76 jeeps to pick and drop such voters to their houses after voting, officials said.

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Team to tackle Kodagu’s ‘elephantine’ problem

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