Farmers living close to the Sariska Tiger Reserve (STR) can now hope to enjoy a good night’s sleep.The forest department is fencing farmland in few villages situated on the periphery of the reserve to ward off wild animals from straying into the premises and damaging crops. The pilot project is underway in Prithvipura, Kalyanpura, Sabalpura, Kala Laka and Rampura villages. On Sunday, STR field director RS Shekhawat switched on the supply of electric current in fences around three farmlands in Prithvipura village, 30km from Alwar city, to inaugurate the scheme. Shekhawat said, “The department got Rs 10 lakh for the scheme. 60% of this cost is borne by the Centre and the remaining, by the state.” So far, 43 hectares of farmland in five villages have either been fenced or are in the process of fencing. Under the scheme, a farmer would bear the cost of erecting cement poles around his farm – which generally costs Rs 5,000 a hectare – and the forest department would provide wires, battery and energiser to run electric current through the fence. “This current is not fatal and will only give a shock to wild animals when they come in contact with the fence,” Shekhawat said.“The scheme has been launched to prevent man-animal conflict and forge cordial relations between villagers and the STR administration,” he added. Farmers and STR administration were often at loggerheads over entry of wild animals, such as wild boars, leopards and nilgai, into villages and farmlands, he explained.Babu Lal Yadav, whose farm has been fenced, said he could sleep peacefully at night now. “Wild animals damaged up to 50% of my crops and I had to stay awake even in the winters to guard them,” he added. Prithvipura sarpanch Inder Mal Meena said the scheme is a huge relief for villagers. “I have requested the STR administration to fence the entire gram panchayat,” he said.Maintenance of the fence will be done by village-level eco development committees. “We will collect Rs 400 for every hectare every year for repair and maintenance,” said Mahesh Naruka, chairman of Prithvipura EDC.The scheme is modelled on the one running in villages surrounding the Pench Tiger Reserve in Maharashtra, said Shekhawat.