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Rampant deforestation leads to human-elephant conflict

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HT Correspondent

MARGHERITA, Sept 1: The Upper Dehing Forest Reserve under Digboi Forest Division has witnessed recurring incidents of pachyderms from the wild venturing into the 1 Number Bhittorpowai Lankadeep village, causing extensive damage to the paddy fields. The village falls under the jurisdiction of Bhittorpowai Gaon Panchayat and the 124 number Margherita constituency in Tinsukia district.

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As a result of extensive deforestation in the Upper Dehing Forest Reserve, wild elephants have increasingly ventured into the area in search of food, leading to the devastation of cultivated paddy fields. Local residents in the area are living in fear due to these elephant movements, with the Margherita West Range Forest department officials primarily visiting for their duties.

Probin Neog, a local resident, expressed frustration, stating that they have repeatedly informed Margherita MLA Bhaskar Sharma, Margherita West Range Forest officials, and Bhittorpowai Gaon Panchayat about the recurring elephant intrusions, but their pleas have gone unanswered.

The villagers, primarily cultivators, have been unable to harvest their paddy due to these intrusions. Probin Neog highlighted that on numerous occasions, over 500 wild elephants have visited during the night hours, decimating their crops.

The presence of an Anti-Poaching Forest Camp at Bhittorpowai and the Kuduka Forest Beat Camp under the Margherita West Range Forest Office has raised concerns among the residents. Many times, the staff is absent from these camps, prompting an appeal to Digboi Forest Division’s divisional forest officer, TC Ranjith Ram, to take stringent action against those responsible.

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Another pressing issue in 1 number Bhittorpowai Lankadeep village is the deplorable state of the roads, particularly during the rainy season when they become impassable, turning the village roads into makeshift paddy fields. This has severely affected the daily routines of the villagers, including the education of students.

Probin Neog stated that if the relevant authorities do not address the menace of wild elephants and the dire road conditions in Lankadeep village, the local residents are prepared to launch a democratic movement before the upcoming Gaon Panchayat and MP elections.


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