Either relocate elephants or pay compensation, Army tells Assam govt

Major General says ‘attacks’ by elephants on Narengi Military Station cost the Army at least ₹15 lakh in last six months

Published - November 06, 2020 05:28 am IST - GUWAHATI

The Army has asked the Assam government to either relocate elephants of a wildlife sanctuary adjoining its base on the eastern edge of Guwahati or compensate for the damages caused by animals during frequent raids.

Major General Jarken Gamlin, the commanding officer of the Narengi Military Station, had in a July 3 letter to the State’s Chief Secretary Kumar Sanjay Krishna said the State should consider moving the elephants out of the Amchang Wildlife Sanctuary or compensate for the losses incurred because of them.

There are an estimated 40 elephants in the 78.64 sq km sanctuary but the Army was specific about three that caused much of the damage. The Major General said the “attacks” by these elephants cost the Army at least ₹15 lakh in the last six months.

A copy of the two-page letter was received via Right To Information application by environment activist Rohit Choudhury a few days ago.

“In case relocation of elephants is not a feasible proposition, the State may consider paying compensation for the losses being incurred since regularisation of such losses, so frequently, are subject to scrutiny by the audit authorities,” Major General Gamlin wrote.

He reminded the government that the military station was the Army’s logistic hub for the entire northeast. There are large numbers of vital assets created for storage of logistic essentials and the elephants have caused substantial damage to “critical logistic stores” besides infrastructure, he said.

Failed deterrents

Major General Gamlin said the Army had in 2002 erected iron barricades to protect the critical assets but these had to be dismantled in 2019 due to the safety concerns for the elephants raised by the Assam Forest department.

“Resorting to sterner measures to ward off these elephants at our end may not be desirable,” he wrote, providing a list of “prophylactic measures” such as digging trenches and installation of electronic repellents that have failed to keep the elephants away.

Principal Chief Conservator of Forest A.M. Singh confirmed receiving a copy of the Major General’s letter. PCCF (Wildlife) M.K. Yadava said the Army’s issue about an elephant that was injured during an incursion was addressed.

“We are trying to find a way out. But relocation of elephants is not a good idea, particularly when the military station was set in a prime elephant area,” he told The Hindu on Thursday.

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