ROURKELA: To prevent intrusion of elephants into Rourkela, the local forest division has decided to erect solar fences in certain parts of the city.
Amid rising number of elephant attacks and their intrusion in and around the Steel City, the forest division has decided that a road stretch of around 18 km along the river Koel from Pradhanpali under Rourkela Municipal limits to Jabaghat in Bisra block would be covered with solar fencing.
Solar-powered fence keeps intruders away by giving them a short but safe shock if they come in contact with the fence. Unlike electric fencing, there is no chance of electrocution, Forest Department sources said.
Rourkela DFO Sanjeet Kumar the move comes in wake of increasing man-elephant conflict in Rourkela and its adjoining areas. He informed that eight km from Pradhanpali would be covered in the first phase for which `12 lakh has been received. Works will begin soon.
A herd of 11 elephants in July last year had entered Bisra Square in the city and it took the district administration 20 hours to drive away the animals. Two months later, the same herd again entered Sector 20 area.
The DFO said in the last one year, elephants after crossing river Koel have several times entered Pradhanpali and Tumkela areas on the city’s outskirts. Kuanrmunda, Birmitrapur, Bisra and Panposh ranges of the Rourkela forest division are worst affected by elephant depredation.
Last year, compensation worth `1 crore was paid to elephant attack victims under the Rourkela forest division, the highest in the State. Nine persons of the area have been killed in the last 17 months in jumbo attacks.
Certain long term experimental steps have also been mooted. These include trench fencing, biomass fencing with Agave and Cactus plants and red chilly plantation in villages located in the periphery of forests.
Till now, two anti-depredation units, over six elephant trackers and one Rapid Response Team have been deployed at Kuarmunda, Bisra and Birmitrapur ranges. Around 36 water bodies were also been created in forests this year to improve elephant habitats.