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Hassan seeks elephant sanctuary

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A file photo of elephants in a paddy field in Magge village of Alur taluk in Hassan district.
A file photo of elephants in a paddy field in Magge village of Alur taluk in Hassan district.

Shama Sunder

HASSAN: Residents of Magge village in Alur taluk staged a rasta roko even as they launched an indefinite dharna on Monday demanding protection from wild elephants that had made their life miserable. Magge village borders Alur and Sakleshpur taluks and has been the victim of elephant menace. Sometimes elephants visit villages in the day itself. Children fear to go to their schools and stay indoor.

In some villages that border the forests, people prepare illicit brew and they leave the leftovers there itself. Elephants that descend on the villages from the forests in search of food, drink the brew and become ferocious. This is also one of the reasons why elephants visit villages during the day.

H.M. Viswanath, former MLA from Sakleshpur, told The Hindu that the Union Government had sanctioned an elephant sanctuary in the State. He wanted this to be set up in Hassan district, particularly on the border of Hassan and Madikeri districts which are affected by elephant menace. A resident Javare Gowda said that if they do not leave their farms by 4 p.m., they would not reach their home safely. Even workers had stopped coming fearing elephant attacks. “We do not want compensation. Give us protection,” was their demand.

Farmer Raje Gowda demanded a raise in compensation from Rs. 2 lakh to Rs. 10 lakh in case of death due to elephant attacks. The Government should increase crop compensation too, he said.

In the last five years (2003-08), 13 people, including six this year, died and 138 people were injured in elephant attacks. As many as nine elephants, including five this year, died allegedly due to electrocution.

Farmers are yet to get Rs. 35 lakh crop compensation. Farmers in 70 villages are trying to save their standing crops, including paddy, sugarcane, coffee, ragi, arecanut, plantain and groundnuts but to no avail.

Some of the villages in the two taluks that border the deep forests and are often attacked by elephants include Bembaluru, Kerodi, Mugalali, Hammige, Shettihalli, Chavaduhalli, Konnapura, Ponnathapura and Madihalli.

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