Amidst forest department’s report to the chief minister last Wednesday seeking her consent to declare three elephants rogue, a new herd of 16 elephants intruded into some villages in Sonamukhi Range areas in Bankura (North) Forest Division at midnight and rampaged through the human habitats causing destruction to crops and dwelling houses indiscriminately.

State forest minister Rajib Banerjee incidentally arrived at the district today itself and flagged off the fifth Banabandhav festival at Gangajalghanti Range, where one villager was killed by a tusker a fortnight back. The minister said, “It is a fact that the human-elephant conflict has become a perennial crisis in certain forest adjacent areas in Bankura.”

He added, “Deaths due to the elephant menace has substantially reduced in recent years. Still, even a single human death caused by the herds cannot be accepted.” He further said, “We have severe crunch of strength over the years and for that the movement of elephants couldn’t be tracked properly. Shortly, the crisis will be over, I hope. Besides, the villagers too need to be cautious while handling the elephants. They shouldn’t irritate them.”

The minister recently proposed to set up a master plan to check the continued human-elephant conflict across the South Bengal forests. At Radhurbaid village in Gangajalghanti Range areas, one solitary tusker was spotted roaming on Friday itself and at Karanjamoni jungles in Sonamukhi Range areas 15 elephants were visible roaming in the village adjacent areas.

On Thursday, the members of Sangrami Ganamancha – a forum struggling against the elephant menace across the district staged a demonstration in front of Bankura (North) and Bankura (South) Forest Divisions demanding immediate removal of the marauding pachyderms to Mayurjharna project on the Bengal-Jharkhand border.

Shubhrangshu Mukherjee, secretary of Mancha said, “We have also demanded permanent absorption of the deceased dependents those fell victim of the elephants menace in our district. The chief minister earlier had promised this but no significant action has been visible since then.” MLA, Barjora, Sujit Chakraborty, on 11 February had raised the issue at the state Assembly.