App, mobile medical unit to ensure less man-elephant conflict in Bengal

Kolkata, June 5 (PTI) The West Bengal government has chalked out a master plan involving an app and a mobile medical unit to ensure that there is less man-elephant conflict in the state, Forest Minister Rajib Bandyopadhyay said on Friday, the World Environment Day.

The master plan will make certain that there is little interference in the movement of elephants along the corridors in North and South Bengal, Bandyopadhyay told PTI.

Giving details about the master plan, he said, there will be a cell phone app which will alert forest personnel and local people about possible movement of a herd or a strayed elephant while a mobile medical unit will be kept ready to treat injured elephants.

Besides, awareness campaigns will be run among villagers to prevent attacks on elephants, the minister said.

'We had initially planned to roll out parts of the master plan by July but the lockdown delayed everything. Now it can be gradually put in place later on once the lockdown is lifted,' he said.

To minimise the possibility of people coming in the path of elephants, which at times occur in early morning, Bandyopadhyay said villagers living near elephant habitats would be asked not to go out of their homes during that time.

Apart from those in the Dooars region of North Bengal, elephant corridors in the state are present in parts of West Midnapore, Bankura, Purulia and West Burdwan districts.

Bandyopadhyay expressed concern over the death of elephants due to collision with moving trains along the Banarhat-Nagrakata route in Dooars area in recent years.

'The train route has crisscrossed the elephant corridor in the area. Elephants have been using it for ages.

We had repeatedly asked the railways to reduce train speed to the minimum while passing by that stretch. We had also filed an FIR against the railways after the death of a jumbo in recent times,' he said.

On September 27 last year, the Siliguri-Dhubri Intercity Express hit an elephant that was trying to cross the tracks between Banarhat and Nagrakata in the jungle. The animal was severely injured and later died.

Ever since the line was converted to broad gauge, the Banarhat-Nagrakata route has witnessed several elephant deaths, reports said. The over 70 km long route runs across more than one elephant corridor.

On the death of a pregnant elephant in Kerala's Silent Valley Forest after she was fed a pineapple filled with powerful crackers that exploded in her mouth, Bandyopadhyay said, 'It is an inhuman act. We all should work towards protecting the wildlife and see such incidents don't recur.' PTI SUS NN NN