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Jumbos won’t cross this bridge

 

The Pioneer
March 09, 2011   

Moushumi Basu | Dhenkanal (Odisha)
Elephants reject Rs 6-crore artificial corridor in Dhenkanal

The ongoing Rengali Left Bank Canal Irrigation Project on the Brahmani River that promises an economic boom in Odisha has, however, ushered doom for nearly 360 villages of Dhenkanal and the adjacent districts in the State, throwing them in the throes of bitter man-elephant conflict. The project’s final phase is in full swing and is slated for completion in June 2011.

According to the official figures of the State forest department, out of the average human death toll of 65 across the State during the last six years, 30-35 cases have been reported from Dhenkanal alone, due to the construction of the project.

Funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and implemented by the State Government, the project has destroyed the traditional habitat of the national heritage animal as it passes through the parent habitats of reserve forests in Dhenkanal, Kapilash and Anantpur under the Dhenkanal Forest Division.

Pointing to the alarming situation, Biswajit Mohanty, Secretary Wildlife Society of Orissa, Member of National Board For Wildlife, has written to Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh for withdrawal of environment and forest clearances to the project. “The State Government, has completed just one crossing path at Brahmania village near Kamakhyanagar,” he pointed out, adding more such corridors was the need of the hour.

The Rs 6-crore artificial jumbo corridor, locally called Haati Bridge, constructed along the length of the canal to reorient the path of the jumbos has been rejected by the pachyderms. Instead, the wild herds of pachyderms are now entering the villages killing humans, trampling their fields and courtyards and damaging their houses. 

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