Odisha government is soon going to launch Gaja Bandhu Scheme to check Jumbo deaths in the state. In the past few decades, there are a record number of cases of elephant deaths. This is due to man-animal conflict, loss of habitat, road accidents etc. So, the state govt. plans to deploy Gajabandhu volunteers to ensure safety and security of panchyderms.
This Gaja Bandhu (Friend of Elephant) Scheme will involve local people residing close to forest areas in detecting jumbo herds in their locality. Odisha govt. may pay remuneration to people giving advance information about elephant herds to keep track of movement of elephants in their localities. A person on such duty would be identified as Gaja Bandhu and would be entitled to incentives.
Update – Odisha govt. to implement Gajabandhu Scheme from 1 October 2019.
Odisha Gajabandhu Scheme 2019
The important features and highlights of this scheme are as follows:-
- Under the new Gaja Bandhu Scheme, the Forest department will appoint “Gajabandhus” in villages surrounding elephant corridors in the State to get information on their movement and location.
- Each Gajabandhu (friend of elephants) will lead a team to track the movement of the jumbos. He/ she will also be responsible for coordination with field officials of Forest department.
- The Gajabandhus will be entitled to Government remuneration. These volunteers can provide information about movement of elephants near periphery of human settlements to earn incentives.
- This scheme will prevent elephant deaths due to road accidents and man-animal conflicts.
- Odisha govt. will install speed breakers at 65 locations in elephant corridors to regulate speed of vehicles and will also install CCTVs at some of these locations.
- The state govt. has identified 65 sensitive spots to install rumblers at these selected elephant movement zones in designated corridors.
- Odisha Forest and Environment department has asked the NHAI authorities to construct underpass and overpass for elephants in 19 locations on Sambalpur-Angul road and Athagarh region.
In order to minimize man-animal conflicts caused by stray elephants, govt. proposed to install radio collars to track movement of elephants.
As per the reports of Wildlife Society of Odisha (NGO), around 1,497 elephants deaths recorded in state since 1990. Out of these, around 718 deaths were reported in last 9 years 5 months duration. These deaths includes 103 deaths by poachers, 67 by live electric wires, 45 by sagging electric supply lines and poorly fixed poles and 26 died by speeding trains.
Furthermore, the state govt. will also provide compensation to victims of elephant attacks online. Odisha govt. will soon launch a portal for this purpose. All the victims who seeks compensation would be required to apply online. The assistance will be provided by the state govt. to victims within 15 days.