The farmers of Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri districts of Tamil Nadu are protesting against regular elephant attacks, urging the state forest department to immediately resolve the issue.
P.M. Ramaswamy Gounder, the leader of the Dharmapuri farmers movement, told IANS: “Recently there was an unfortunate incident of three female elephants getting electrocuted while coming into contact with an electric fence erected by a farmer, Murugan.
“While we cannot side with Murugan, but what could he have done to prevent elephant, wild boar, and peacock attacks in his farmland. He has been arrested and jailed and we came to know that forest department is planning a to slap the Tamil Nadu Goondas Act against farmers who erect electric fences. We will protest against this move.”
The farmers called upon the forest department to properly remove the waste and growth in the elephant trenches and to erect scientific fences maintaining proper voltage to forbid the tuskers and other wild animals from entering the farmlands.
R. Veluswamy, another farmer leader from the Dharmapuri movement, told IANS that if the forest department tries to enact the Act, they will have to resort to protests like road blockades to bring the issue to the attention of authorities.
The farmers have also said that Dharmapuri has the largest forest area in Tamil Nadu with an estimated 1702 sq.km. of forest land in the district.
They added that there is regular movement of a herd of 10-15 elephants through the area.
R. Palaniswamy, a farmer leader from Maradanahalli, said that the forest department has set up solar fencing in the Cauvery North Sanctuary which has been successful in evading the movement of elephants.
Forest department officials told IANS that they are setting up solar fences to prevent elephant intrusion into farmlands on a trial basis.
The department has also submitted a proposal to the government to set up solar fencing in more areas of Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri, the officials added.
Palaniswamy, however, said that there should not be a delay in erecting fences and that during the migratory season, there will be a flow of herds of elephants and if they get attracted to the smell of grains elephants would reach the farmlands and destroy the crops.
He also said that farmers are being attacked on a regular basis by the wild elephants and that to prevent this deep trenches and electric fencing are important.