Chhattisgarh villagers migrate as elephants run amok

Raipur, Oct 8 (Calcutta Tube) Dozens of families have migrated from a forested village in Chhattisgarh’s Surguja district after a herd of wild elephants ran amok, killing a child and destroying several houses, officials said Friday.

‘Some 25 families of Panekatel village have moved to safer areas for a brief period after wild jumbos sneaked into their village Thursday night and trampled a three-year-old girl, Manisha, to death and demolished several houses,’ an official at the forest headquarters here told IANS.

Panekatel is some 350 km from state capital Raipur.

Officials added that another group of wild elephants ran amok in a village in Ramanujganj area and destroyed a few mud-built houses and crops as well. The forest headquarters have asked forest officials in Surguja district to take immediate steps to drive the elephants away from civilian pockets.

Chhattisgarh’s vast northern region, comprising Surguja, Jashpur, Koria, Korba and Raigarh districts, has recorded a sharp rise in man-elephant conflicts in recent months.

The state government annually pays people living in villages that are surrounded by forests, millions of rupees in compensation for the loss of human lives and the massive damage caused to houses and crops by wild elephants.

The state government said it is trying to find a permanent solution to the decades-old man-elephant conflict and is willing to work on a proposal by NGO Earth Matters Foundation, which has suggested setting up ‘elephant villages’ to help keep wild jumbos away from areas inhabited by civilians.

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