August 14, 2021 3:40:55 am
A camel was reportedly trapped inside a trench dug to fence a grass plot developed by the state forest department near Sharada village in Banni grassland in Kutch on Friday, even as the forest department maintained that it did not have any official information about the incident. The incident comes three days after maldharis (cattle-herders) of Sharada village submitted a memorandum to police demanding compensation for the death of a buffalo after allegedly falling in the same trench in July.
“This morning, maldharis spotted a camel trapped in the trench dug around the grass plot located between Sharada and Hodko villages. The villagers arranged water for the camel and tried to help it out of the trench. However, the animal seemed to have sustained injuries and was unable to stand up. Therefore, it could not be rescued immediately,” Fakirmamd Punra, a resident of Sharada and vice-president of Banni Breeders Association (BBA), an organisation of maldharis of Banni grassland, said.
A purported video of the incident showed the camel stretching its neck out the trench and trying to get up to no avail. “This is the same trench in which a buffalo of Sadham Bhsriya of Sharada was trapped on July 9. Another buffalo, belonging to Sharif Vasant Jat of our village, also died after getting trapped in the same trench on August 9,” Punra said.
Forest department has been on a drive to create grass development plots inside Banni to restore one the largest grasslands of Asia by removing invasive and dominant mesquite (prosopis juliflora, locally called gando baval) and other shrubs so that grass can grow and more fodder becomes available to maldharis.
To protect these plots from grazing and invasion of gando baval, the forest department has been digging trenches, up to one metre wide and 1.5 metre deep, round them as a protection measure. The forest department had created one such plot in Sharda village this summer. However, maldharis of a few villages, including Sharada, have been protesting against these trenches, saying their buffaloes will fall in them and die as generations of buffaloes are habituated to graze on their own with no one to herd them.
But MU Jadeja, deputy conservator of forests (DCF) of Banni, said they did not have any information about the camel getting trapped in the trench of grass plot in Sharada. “We don’t have any official report or information about it. However, camel breeders do come to Banni in search of fodder for their herds of camels,” said the forest officer, adding, “We have been creating grass plots for the past five years and there has been no problem. Dhordo village panchayat has created two such plots on their own and no animal has fallen in their trenches. But residents of Sharada were opposed to the plot in the vicinity of their village and we are learning that the problem is reported from there only.”
On August 9, maldharis of Sharada submitted a memorandum to JP Sodha, police sub-inspector of Khavda, demanding the government pay compensation to Bhsriya. “In their memorandum, they said that their buffaloes are getting trapped in the trenches dug by the forest department around grass plots and that the government should pay them compensation for loss of their livestock. We have forwarded their memorandum to the Kutch district collector,” Sodha said on Friday.
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