Surguja (Chhattisgarh) [India], October 16 (ANI): The residents of villages which are falling under the area prescribed for the formation of Lemru Elephant Reserve are opposing the project as they are in the fear that they may get displaced and they will have no lands to carry out agriculture.
Villagers in Surguja are objecting to the state government's proposal to expand the area of proposed Lemru Elephant Reserve. A total of 39 villages in the district will be affected by the project.
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel had in August last year announced the formation of Lemru Elephant Reserve aiming at minimising human-elephant conflict and destruction of property in addition to providing a permanent habitat for the wild tuskers. The cabinet later proposed to extend the area for the project by 1,995.48 square kilometres.
While speaking to ANI, villagers of Kudarabaswar of Udaipur block expressed their concerns regarding the project. The villagers said that they will not get benefit from the construction of this project and they will oppose the project if the government will try to muzzle their voices.
Rajesh Tigga, a resident of Kudarabaswar village said, "Our agricultural land is inside the forest area. Our land will go to the project if we do not oppose it. We are living here for three generations. We do not want to be displaced."
Another villager Rajendra Ekka said, "If this corridor is completed. It will affect us and we are opposing it. We are dependent on Jungle and if the entry in the forest area will be restricted after the project then we will have to suffer. We are opposing this Lemru project."
Naihar Shah, another villager of Kudarabaswar said, "We depend upon agriculture. We are opposing Lemru project. Due to project for elephants, we will suffer. We also live in fear that we may get attacked by elephants. They want to take our land but we will not give it. We will oppose it."
Officials said that a total of 39 villages fall in the purview of Lemru Elephant Reserve. According to them after the completion of this project, human-wild conflicts will be lessened.
Sanjeev Kumar Jha, Collector and District Magistrate of Surguja said, "We have received a written application from BJP delegation. They are requesting that 39 villages of Sarguja which are falling in this project should be consulted before proceeding further. They are saying that villagers are opposing it."
"The Lemru Elephant Reserve will reduce the man-wild conflict. This project will help in sustainable development projects. It will also help in protecting the elephants," he added.
AB Minj, a forest official of Surguja Division said, "Special work will be done to ensure the protection of elephants. After elephant reserve, the elephants will live safely here. Elephants will not go out of the forest and hence villagers will also remain protected."
Of the 39 villages covered under Lemru Elephant Reserve - 30 are from Udaipur block and 9 from Lakhanpur block villages and these villages are from Ambikapur Assembly constituency represented by state Health Minister TS Singh Deo for the third time.
"Then BJP government of Chhattisgarh has sent a proposal to develop an elephant corridor in 4,500 square km area and UPA government has accepted the proposal which is known as Lemru Elephant Reserve. But the BJP government did not act on it after clearance. We raised the issued when we were in opposition," Deo said.
"After coming to power, we brought the proposal in the Cabinet to increase the area by 1,995.48 square km. I said that villages should not be included in the project. Villagers do not agree to give away their land for the project. We are standing with the people. I will stand by the villagers on this issue," he added.
Lemru Elephant Reserve is being developed as per the recommendations of centrally-constituted Special High-Power Technical Committee (SHPTC), which suggested measures such as the abundance of water, food, and a natural corridor for the state's elephant population to thrive. (ANI)