Eight families belonging from a village in Khunti’s Arki block in Jharkhand have sought refuge in a government middle school which is an adjacent hamlet after a herd of wild elephants, drawn to the scent of Hariya (rice-beer), went on a rampage and razed their houses late on Saturday night.
A total of 10 houses in the tribal-dominated Sasangbera village were completely damaged after the 17-member strong elephant herd, which migrated from West Bengal, destroyed their walls, damaged utensils and killed a buffalo in the mayhem which began at 10 pm and lasted an hour.
The members who lost their house includes Petrified Bindu Devi, Mangala Devi, Sonia Devi, Budhram Lohra, Bahadur Lohra, Sitaram Munda, Bulu Munda, Domni Bala and Durgamani Devi spent the chilling night in open with their families after the elephant herd retreated after leaving a trail of destruction.
According to TOI, Arki’s block development officer (BDO) Gautam Kumar Sahu said the affected families have been given new blankets, a quintal of rice and potatoes as immediate relief.
“Out of 10 houses, eight have been completely damaged. The affected families will be given pucca houses under the government scheme. The magnitude of damage is being assessed. Thereafter, compensation will be disbursed by the department of forest, environment and climate change,” he added.
A forester interestingly also stated that Pathalgarhi movement is also acting as a major deterrent in thwarting such conflicts.
“After Pathalgarhi uprising in 2018, locals have begun being hostile and they do not allow others to enter their villages, The forest department is trying to create forest conservation committees in these villages which will, in turn, will arm the villagers with torches, searchlights and other equipment to keep elephants at bay, But the locals are not cooperating. So far, we have only been able to constitute 40 such committees in 120 odd villages in the range, which is spread over an area of 100 square kilometres,” He says.