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Udalguri district admin takes steps to mitigate human-elephant conflict

 Correspondent

KALAIGAON, Dec 21 - In view of the escalating human-elephant conflict (HEC) in Udalguri district, which has witnessed the death of 26 people and eight wild elephants during the current year, newly-posted Deputy Commissioner Prakash Ranjan Gharphalia convened a high-level meeting at Udalguri on December 20 with a view to somewhat arrest the disturbing situation.

The meeting was attended by the new Superintendent of Police Rupul Das, ADC Arupjyoti Barman, DFO (Dhansiri Forest Division) MK Sarma and other district officials of various government departments, namely Health, Social Welfare etc.

Managers of all the adjoining tea gardens of the district took part in the discussion.In his inaugural speech while presiding over the meet, the DC expressed serious concern over the alarming death rates of both human and wild elephants in Udalguri district from 2012 upto 2019, which stands at 126 people and 57 wild elephants respectively.

He urged the tea garden managements to take all possible steps to create awareness among the people of the tea garden areas in order to minimise cases of human-elephant conflict.

The DC suggested that a minimum of 10 hectares of land with abundant drinking water should be kept out of tea plantation in each tea estate so that the herds of wild elephants can take temporary shelter during their seasonal migration from the Bhutan hills to the plains of Udalguri, i.e., from June to December.

DFO MK Sarma in his speech explained in detail about the steps adopted by the state Forest Department for mitigation of human-elephant conflict (HEC) in the district.

According to him, people usually get irritated immediately after the death of a human being by elephants and often puts all the blame on the forest personnel. He said that due to acute shortage of staff and vehicles, it was sometimes difficult to reach the place of occurrence on time.

S Das, secretary of TAI, Tezpur, S Bhattacharya, assistant secretary of ABITA,PP Bhattacharya and senior manager of Hatigarh Tea Estate expressed their opinions too on the issue. P Choudhury, Manager of Majuli Tea Estate told the house that they had already arranged a plot 31 hectares along with abundant drinking water for use by the elephants in their tea garden.

Similarly, the manager of Bhutiachang Tea Estate also mentioned that an area of 17 hectares had been kept reserved for wild elephants. NM Chourasia, Assistant Manager of Nonaipara Tea Estate said that they had taken care of the free and safe movement of wild elephants through their tea garden.

Jayanta Das, honorary Wildlife Warden of the district also spoke on activities undertaken by the Udalguri district administration in this respect since 2010.

Dr GC Brahma, Joint Director of Health Services while addressing the meeting highlighted various health-related government schemes meant for the tea garden people.

Mina Das Boro, District Social Welfare Officer and Poonam Khaklari, District Women Welfare Officer also spoke on some vital issues relating to welfare of the tea garden people, mostly women and children.

Source: The Assam Tribune, Guwahati, Sunday, December 22, 2019