To reduce man-elephant conflict, the Karnataka government plans to erect rail fences along forest boundaries at a cost of Rs 628 crore. The State Cabinet meeting held Thursday approved the project and sanctioned Rs 100 crore in the first phase to fence 118 km of forest land. After the cabinet meeting, Karnataka Law and Parliamentary Affairs minister JC Madhuswamy said, “The fence will cost Rs 1.2 crore per kilometre, we plan to fence about 517 km at a cost of Rs 628 crore in three years. The cabinet approved the proposal after forest department officials promised to erect the track in a scientific and safe manner so that animals are not harmed.”
The barricades to the extent of 24 km in Nagarahole National Park and Tiger Reserve, 17 km in Bandipur National Park, 19 km in Madikeri, 3 km in Virajpet, 13 km in Male Mahadeshwara–Kollegal, 15 km in Kollegal forest reserve, 6 km in Ramanagaram, 15 km in Bannerghatta National Park, and 6 km in Hassan district are to be erected.
According to reports, the forest department will procure discarded rail tracks and concrete tiles from the railways for the fence. The initiative is based on a South African experiment to control man-elephant conflict.
In Karnataka, the highways and roads near the forest area have seen numerous accidents related to elephants and other wildlife leading to deaths. Out of the entire elephant population in the country, Karnataka accounts for 25 per cent of the total.