Elephant corridor: Govt awaits Bangladesh response
The Centre is awaiting a response from the Bangladesh government on the proposed trans-border corridors for smooth movement of elephants to reduce human-animal conflicts, which are evident from recent attacks by two jumbos who strayed from their group in West Bengal, leading to five deaths.
The environment ministry hopes that their Bangladeshi counterparts will soon reply on a 17-point proposal which was sent to them about two months ago after clearances from the MHA and the MEA. “It is the need of the hour as lives are being lost due to conflicts between people living in villages and over 3,000 elephants in that area,” said a source, adding, “An agreement of making dedicated corridors for the movement of this endangered species who often go astray due to fences along the border will be extremely beneficial for both the countries.”
Sources said that by and large the Bangladesh authorities are in favour of such an agreement and just a few conditions on the security aspect are being pondered for the finalisation of the draft.
“We have proposed to identify the tracks where elephants usually move and construct gates on those routes which will be guarded and from where people will strictly not be allowed to trespass,” a senior environment ministry official said, adding, “The absence of such corridors, which if approved would be spread across the 4,000-km-long border, leads to irritation among these animals who are unable to take the naturally guided course.”
Sources said that security concerns raised by the security establishment here will be addressed properly once there is a final go-ahead on the issue.
“There were some issues regarding smuggling and terrorist infiltration, which were raised by the home ministry on which an assurance was given,” said the sources, adding, “A surveillance mechanism would be put in place to keep tabs on suspicious movements through the corridors.”
Despite being formalised in 1992, Project Elephant was not given much attention until 2010, when, in a bid to enhance protection measures, the Central government declared elephants as national heritage. There are about 30,000 elephants in India. The need for a dedicated focus on the issue necessitates from hundreds of lives being lost every year of both men and elephants, said the officials.