What would be your reaction if one fine morning you get up to see a crocodile staring at you near your bed? Needless to mention, sighting of a crocodile in one’s home is enough to send shivers down the spine of people but for people of Shivpuri town, more than 300 kilometers north of Bhopal, this sighting is a common phenomenon particularly during rainy season.
Due to presence of a large number of lakes and nullahs in the entire city emptying into lakes or running downstream from the lakes, the incidence of crocodiles intruding into residential areas is not an unusual phenomenon. The problem is particularly aggravated in monsoon when water level of lakes rises.
During monsoon in particular, people go to their bed at night only after doing their level best to ensure that there is no door left open. Nonetheless, the scary thought of seeing the crocodile or hatchlings during the night hours or the morning continues to haunt them.
A slight carelessness or any hole left unplugged there are chances of crocodiles making their way to the rooms. These wild creatures move towards nullahs connected to the lakes and accidently into somebody’s house. As many as five incidents of crocodiles spotted in houses were reported in the past ten days in the city.
According to rescue team of forest department of Shivpuri since the rescue operation began in the city from the year 2007, a total of 65 crocodiles have been rescued from various residential areas of Shivpuri.
Chiku Batham, a resident of Chintaharan Mandir Colony who caught crocodiles in his colony several times, said now he had become an expert in his own right. Batham claims he was now not at all afraid of crocodiles as his house was situated just near a lake. Two years back, a 12-feet long crocodile entered his house. "It took as many as six people of the forest department to control that crocodile. I never saw such a huge crocodile in my entire life," said Chiku.
Tinu Majhi, a resident of Vishnu Mandir Colony, said he caught a crocodile in the courtyard of his house a few days back. "The crocodile was perhaps in search of food and was moving towards a small hut where we used to keep our hens. When the hens started making noise, I reached there. The crocodile turned towards me. I called my neighbors who helped me in catching the crocodile," said Tinu.
The localities where crocodiles were most commonly sighted in houses are Rampura Darwaza, Old Shivpuri, Hathi Khana, Lal Mati area, Vivekanandpuram, Sidheshwar temple area, Vishnu Mandir Colony etc.
In-charge rescue operations of forest department, Shivpuri, Dr Jitendra Jatav said due to encroachment of people in the catchments areas of the lakes the incidents of crocodiles getting into people’s houses were growing in number. In the past few years, this encroachment had increased manifold in the city.
He said the water conservation system of the city was very strong since the rule of Scindia’s. The city was surrounded with a large number of water bodies which include lakes, nullahs etc. These wild creatures find their way towards city through these nullahs.
When the water level of lakes like Jadhav Sagar and Bujharia lake rises due to heavy rainfall, the crocodiles of these lakes move towards nullahs which are directly connected to these lakes. When the water level decreases, these crocodiles find themselves left in the courtyard of some houses or in gardens or colonies situated near the lakes, he added.
However, despite frequent incidents of crocodiles sighting, people of Shivpuri don’t harm them. Nor have there been any incident of any person having been harmed by any crocodile.