The Rs. 350 crore proposal was submitted in June 2008

Secretary of the Kodagu unit of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) I.R. Durgaprasad has questioned the silence of the BJP Government on the Rs. 350-crore proposal of the Forest Department to contain the elephant menace in the district. The proposal was submitted in June 2008 after a meeting at Aranya Bhavan here.

Dr. Durgaprasad, in a statement here on Saturday, wanted to know what action the two BJP MLAs from the district — K.G. Bopaiah from Virajpet and M.P. Appachu Ranjan from Somwarpet — had taken with regard to the issue. The MLAs had at a meeting said that they would request the Chief Minister to earmark funds separately for tackling the menace.

People continued to die in elephant attacks in various places in the district and the miseries of poor people employed in plantations had increased, Dr. Durgaprasad said.

Ex-gratia payment

Mr. Appachu Ranjan had stated that he had spoken to Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa to increase the ex-gratia payment to the kin of those killed in elephant attacks, from Rs. 1 lakh to Rs. 2 lakh. However, nothing happened, the CPI (M) leader said. Mr. Appachu Ranjan had stated in the Aranya Bhavan meeting that Forest Department officials had been asked to examine a proposal to remove a certain number of teak plantations in the forests to make way for planting of elephant-fodder species, but it had not happened.

Teak plantations in the forests covered more than 22,000 acres. The Forest Department officials had been told to take steps to resort to “thinning” (removal of trees randomly) so as to plant elephant-fodder species, Mr. Appachu Ranjan had said at the meeting, Dr. Durgaprasad said.