KERALA

Path being cleared for elephant corridor project

The Forest Department is drawing up plans to restore the Wayanad leg of the Periya-Kottiyur elephant corridor, considered key to mitigating human-wildlife conflict in the region.

The Centre had approved the corridor project in 2007 at an estimate of Rs. 7.89 crore and allocated Rs. 4.5 crore in 2008. Of the allocation, Rs. 2.5 crore was handed over to the Kannur Collector and Rs. 2 crore to the Wayanad Collector.

Though land acquisition in Kannur is almost over, the work in Wayanad did not begin owing to apathy of revenue officials and lack of coordination between departments. According to the revised estimate of the Forest Department, Rs. 60.46 crore is needed for the completion of the project.

The Revenue Additional Chief Secretary wrote a letter to the Wayanad Collector recently directing him to ask the North Wayanad Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) to submit the required requisition under the new Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation, and Resettlement (LARR) Act for completing the project.

Studies by the Centre for Ecological Sciences, Bengaluru, Forest Research Institute, Peechi, and the French Institute, Puducherry, had recommended restoration of the elephant corridors as a permanent solution to the human-wildlife conflicts and maintaining viability of elephant habitats.

The studies suggested revival of the Pakramthalam-Periya, Periya-Kottiyur, Nilambur-Gudallur, Thirunelli-Kuddrakode, and South Wayanad-Malabar sanctuary elephant corridors in the Wayanad region.

The Forest Department had given priority to the Periya-Kottiyur corridor, which connects the North Wayanad Forest Division and the Aralam Wildlife Sanctuary. The plan is to acquire 131.5 hectares -- 36.5 hectares in Kannur and 95 hectares in Wayanad -- for the corridor in five phases relocating 205 families -- 148 in Wayanad and 57 in Kannur.

K.C. Prasad, DFO, North Wayanad, told The Hindu that he had received a directive from the district administration and requested the officials concerned to convene a public meeting to expedite the project.

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