By Divy Khare
BOKARO: A herd of 16 elephants wreaked havoc in a dozen villages on the hilly terrains of the Red corridor under Gomia block in Bokaro on Wednesday.
The ramapaging elephants destroyed nine houses at Banchatra village. Sources said the herd entered Gomia from the neighbouring Giridih district on May 7 and had destroyed over 35 houses in the area since then.
Many villagers have left their homes with bare necessities. Some of them have taken shelter in a crusher situated some few kilometres away from the village. Local MLA Madhavlal Singh has alerted the forest department. People have been told to stay indoors after dark and to maintain safe distance from the herd, if spotted.
Meanwhile, the villagers have sought compensation from the forest department for loss of property. They usually spend the daytime in the jungles and enter the village after dark in search of food. "Look how these elephants damaged the wall of my house on Wednesday night and polished off the rice stocked here," said Rooplal Ganjhu of Baglatava.
"We were sleeping inside our house when the elephants attacked our hut and ate up the mahua. It was only when villagers started beating drums that the elephants fled," said Nunuchand Mahto of Chutte.
Assistant conservator of forest, Shambhu Prasad said the department officials are visiting the villages to take a stock of the situation. "The victims will be identified and given compensation."
However, the villagers claim that the forest department is indifferent towards their plight. "We want the forest department to take immediate action in chasing the elephants away failing which we will launch an agitation in the area," said Ganiram of Banchatra village.