கோயம்புத்தூர் நேரலை - இது கோவையின் இதயதுடிப்பு

» Latest News »

Apr 10, 2009

Jumbo makes an Issue !


The trumpet of Mayawati’s elephant may not be heard yet in this distant Dravidian land, but rampaging jumbos are definitely an election issue in the forests of western Tamil Nadu. Farmers living along the fringes of the forests in Coimbatore are threatening to boycott the polls if the government does not take action to control elephants in the area. Over the last few years, elephants, whose habitat has been shrinking rapidly, have been raiding fields and damaging crops regularly.

“We will vote only if the government assures us protection from the marauding elephants. They damage our crops and homes, and are even a threat to our lives,” says Vazhukkuparai Balasubramaniam, president of the Coimbatore chapter of Tamil Nadu Farmers Association. “Our votes will be cast only if the elephants are sent back to the forest,” he adds. About one lakh farmers live along the forest fringes. In the Western Ghats, from the picturesque Anamalai Hills and Sethumadai to the Coimbatore reserve forests and the neighbouring
Sathyamangalam jungles, elephants have damaged several acres of banana, sugarcane and maize crops. As farms, buildings and even railway tracks have cut through traditional elephant migratory paths and destroyed their habitat, the animals have increasingly been straying into human settlements, leading to conflict with the farmers.
With summer setting in and water bodies drying up, the elephants have also started coming to the villages in search of water. With the rampaging elephants becoming a poll issue, the forest department has been forced to supply water in tankers to the forest to prevent elephants entering villages. Farmers in Sethumadai, Walayar, Kanuvai, Anaikatti and Sathyamangalam have been affected; many have even been maimed by the elephants. A few months ago, a farmer who walked to his field in Thondamathur in the evening was trampled to death. “I am afraid to go into my fields after dusk,” says R Ramasamy (69), who has a six-acre farm at Varapalayam near Coimbatore. “A few days ago, two tuskers tried to enter my field but the electric fence around it saved me,” he said.

The farmers have decided to march to the district collectorate. “We have to force the government to act. And election time is when they will respond to our demands. Elephants destroy several acres of crops every year but the government gives only a maximum compensation of Rs 15,000,” says Balasubramaniam. Farmers have also threatened to surrender their ration cards as a mark of protest.

Related Posts by Categories



Recent News

Google