State government yet to release funds for erecting forest barriers

Rail track fence erected near Bandipur to prevent elephants from straying into human habitation.

Rail track fence erected near Bandipur to prevent elephants from straying into human habitation.   | Photo Credit: PHOTO: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT


Rs. 212 crore allocated for the project in the State Budget

: The government is yet to release funds to erect a rail track fence covering parts of the Bandipur–Nagarahole–BRT Sanctuary belt to curb elephants straying into human landscape.

Though Chief Minister Siddaramaiah allocated Rs. 212 crore in the State Budget early this year for the purpose, money was yet to be released as a result of which the project was in limbo.

Chief Conservator of Forests H.C. Kantharaj, who is also the Director of Bandipur Tiger Reserve, told The Hindu that 100 tonnes of rails were procured by the Forest Department and it has been erected at some critical portions of Bandipur and along the periphery of the Nagarhole.

But 100 tonnes of rails will only be sufficient to lay a track for 1 km and unless funds were released the Forest Department will not implement the project, Mr. Kantharaj said. The fence is reckoned to be a cost-intensive exercise but a one-time investment as it entails no maintenance.

While it can curb the entry of elephants, it cannot act as a barrier to prevent tigers, leopards and other creatures from sneaking in. “In addition to a rail link fence we should also install chain-link mesh along the fence, which will act as an effective barrier against animals,” said Mr. Kantharaj.

“The two fences will be 100 per cent effective in curbing man-animal conflict but it would cost about Rs. 80 lakh per km and has to be laid along nearly 400 km of the forest boundary,” he added.

D. Rajkumar, of Wildlife Conservation Foundation, said notwithstanding the artificial barriers, elephants being intelligent creatures, are known to identify other regions to enter the human landscape.

“Hence, the rail track fence has to be installed all along the forest border without a break and combined with chain link mesh,” he said.

Mr. Rajkumar said well-maintained Elephant Proof Trenches (EPT) and solar-powered DC fence acted as a good barrier against elephant intrusion from the Bandipur region. “But the lack of maintenance of the solar fence and silt formation in the trenches helped cover the barrier and elephants began straying out of the forests again,” said Mr. Rajkumar.

While elephants have been noticed to fill up the trenches to remove the barriers, their efforts are supplemented by villagers on the forest fringes, who want to let their cattle graze in the forests.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2020 11:54:03 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/state-government-yet-to-release-funds-for-erecting-forest-barriers/article6229167.ece

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