Over 12 acres of banana plantation grown by tribal farmers on the embankment of Rahul river in Balliguda Forest Division in Odisha’s Kandhamal district has been damaged by marauding elephants in the last one week, a forest official today said. A herd of about 25 elephants, led by four tuskers, including five calves, went on a rampage in Khamnipada and five adjoining villages, damaging banana plants, high yield mango seedlings, vegetables and rabi crops, Balliguda Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) V Kartik said.
As many as 24 tribal farmers of Khamnipada village were given financial assistance to raise banana plants in 32 acres of land, the district officials said. They had planted 32,000 plants in 32 acres on the embankment of Rahul river of which about 12,000 plants and 2000 high yield mango seedlings worth over Rs 5 lakh were destroyed by the jumbos.
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The affected farmers have brought to the notice of the Forest authorities and the Balliguda DFO has also instructed Mani Patra range officer, Belghar, and Ghana Shyam Dora, Range Officer, Tumudibandha, to take stock of the situation. Both the range officers also visited the affected villages and reported the extent of loss to the DFO.
The affected cultivators and the panic stricken villagers have demanded steps by the government to drive out the herd to their natural habitat and grant adequate compensation to them. But no action has been taken in this regard so far, the affected cultivators alleged. The jumbo herd is still on the rampage at Majordhapa reserve forest, they informed.
The DFO said the extent of loss due to the jumbo menace is being calculated by forest officials. The affected villages fall under the natural habitat of elephants. He assured that all the affected farmers will be compensated.