Bengaluru

Creation of elephant corridors in limbo

The govt.’s corridor project — that will connect protected reserves from the outskirts of Bengaluru along the length of the Western Ghats — has been hit by paucity of funds

With an expanding population moving along the fringes of towns and cities, conflict with elephants in the State continues to rise. Though experts believe the “veritable buffet” of cultivated crops in fields will see more conflicts, the government’s big-budget solution of creating elephant corridors remains in limbo.

Conservation efforts have seen the number of elephants in the State go up from nearly 3,500 in 1983 to around 6,000 now. Consequently, the pachyderm — which has large migration tracts — forms the bulk of violent conflicts reported. With forest areas being saturated, R. Sukumar, elephant expert, said conflicts were bound to increase in the coming years. “Currently, conflicts are inevitable. A lot more needs to be done by the Forest Department in being able to deal with the herds and their capture…linking critical areas is one of the solutions, but a broad corridor for now is only a pipe dream,” he said.

Corridor project

The government’s corridor project — that will connect protected reserves from the outskirts of Bengaluru along the length of the Western Ghats — has been hit by paucity of funds.

For a perspective of the cost, the State government has estimated that acquiring 30,000 hectares at Sakleshpur taluk will cost up to Rs. 300 crore. “We have asked the Centre for funds, but the cost involved is too high…the corridors remain in the discussion stage,” said Madan Gopal, Additional Chief Secretary, Forest, Ecology and Environment.

He added that even a meeting on February 1 with Union Minister of State for Environment, Forests and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar had not yielded a mechanism to fund the expensive project. Similarly, in his reply in the Legislative Council recently, B. Ramanath Rai, Minister for Forests, confirmed that no decision had been taken to implement the elephant corridors.

Eviction fears

Irrespective of this, the fear of eviction because of elephant corridors remains. In Belthangady taluk of Dakshina Kannada district, nearly 50 households have been given notices for eviction for what residents suspect is linked to the creation of a corridor from Idukki in Kerala to Goa. “Now, with the Kasturirangan report under the process of implementation, people in nearly 17 villages in the taluk believe they will be evicted either by the corridor or the report,” said B.M. Shivakumar, advocate and activist.

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Printable version | Feb 22, 2020 1:15:35 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/creation-of-elephant-corridors-in-limbo/article6875442.ece

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