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Odisha jumbos render Jharkhand villagers ‘homeless’

ranchi Updated: Jan 30, 2018 13:04 IST
Sanjoy Dey
Sanjoy Dey
Ranchi, Hindustan Times
Odisha,Jharkhand,Elephants

Elephant herd at Pindrabera forest in Saraikela Kharsawan of Jharkhand(HT PHOTO)

A herd of 21 elephants from Odisha has been terrorising villagers and rendering them ‘homeless’ by destroying their houses in Gamharia block of Saraikela Kharsawan district, 120 km from the Jharkhand’s capital Ranchi. The herd has damaged over 50 houses and destroyed crops on several acres in past one week in four villages of Shankarpur, Pindrabera, Shinarayanpupr and Sarna.

Several villagers have reportedly abandoned their houses in fear of elephant attacks.

The herd has injured three people, said a forest official.

A resident of Sarna Tola under Jagannathpur panchayat, Lakshmi Soi, who lost her home to the herd attack on Sunday night, said, “It was a sudden attack while we were asleep. We felt our house is shaking. We escaped immediately. The elephants razed down our home within a few minutes”.

Houses damaged by the herd of wild elephants at Sarna Tola of Gamharia block in Saraikela Kharsawan (HT Photo)

The villages are about 3-4 kilometers from the Adityapur Municipal area. “It won’t be surprising if elephant herd invades city area,” said Sonu Singh, former councilor of ward-3 of Adityapur Municipal Corporation (AMC).

Singh in absence of help from forest department has formed a team of villagers, equipped with tyre, kerosene and crackers, who patrol at night and try to keep tuskers away. “The herd also entered one of the villages last night but could not damage much due to alertness of the team,” he said.

Dasam Soi, another resident of Jagannathpur Panchayat, said, “Even as we had sleepless nights for the last three days, no forest officials have yet visited the village. Villagers are now abandoning their houses in fear of elephant attack.”

Forest department is in catch-22 situation as it is finding it difficult to chase away the elephants from Jharkhand border. Divisional forest officer (DFO), Saraikela-Kharswan, Alex Ekka, said the elephant herd has entered Jharkhand from Odisha.

“There are three new born baby elephants in the herd. This is one of the major reasons that the herd is not leaving the area. We have deputed a specialized team from Bankura district of West Bengal, who has driven away elephants to Pindrabera forest area on Monday. The team is making effort to restrict the elephants in forest area to avoid man-animal conflict,” Alex Ekka said, adding, the villagers’ loss due to elephant attack would be compensated.

A total of 277 people had died and 40 elephants were killed in last five years in man-elephant conflicts in Jharkhand. Altogether 56 people and 13 elephants have lost their lives in 2017 alone in the state.

First Published: Jan 30, 2018 13:04 IST