The Forest Department will erect solar fences to a total length of 300 kilometres on identified stretches along the periphery of forests across the State during the current year, the Forest Minister N. Selvaraj said on Tuesday.

The solar fencing works would be taken up at a cost of Rs. 4.8 crore during the current year to prevent animals from entering human habitations and damaging their agricultural fields, Mr. Selvaraj said distributing prizes to college students who emerged winners in the State level quiz competition conducted as part of the Wildlife Week celebrations at the Bishop Heber College in the city.

The Forest Department had erected solar fences to a length of over 900 kilometres in identified stretches along the periphery of forests at a cost of Rs. 14.5 crore over the past three years, he added.

Stating that steps were being taken to prevent man-animal conflict, he said the State government had given compensation to the villagers whose crops and agricultural fields were damaged by the entry of wild animals into human habitations. Over Rs. 2.7 crore had been given as compensation over the past three years, he pointed out.

Citing a survey, Mr. Selvaraj said both forest area and tree cover in Tamil Nadu had increased over the past few years owing to the sustained efforts of the State government.

The present situation warranted protection of wild animals and the forest areas, he said, seeking the cooperation of all sections of the society in this endeavour. The College Principal M. Marcus Diepen Boominathan said everybody had a role in protecting our environment. A. Relton, Reader and Head, Department of Social Work, Bishop Heber College welcomed the gathering.

The first three positions in the quiz competitions organised by the Post Graduate & Research Department of Social Work, Bishop Heber College and Heber Au Sable Institute of Environmental Studies were bagged by the teams of the Bishop Heber College, Tiruchi. In all, 18 teams from 13 colleges across the State took part in the quiz competition on wild life and conservation.