Two kilometres along forestland at Vattakkayam to be covered in first phase of work
Following frequent demands by farmers, the Forest Department has agreed to construct solar power fences in some of the most vulnerable areas in Chakkittappara panchayat where wild elephants recently destroyed crops in large acres of agriculture land. In the first phase, solar fences will be erected covering nearly two kilometres along the forestland at Vattakkayam.
Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) M. Rajeevan, who held discussions with farmers at Peruvannamoozhi on Monday following a directive from Forest Minister A.K. Saseendran, also promised to submit a fresh proposal to the State government to sanction fund for rope fencing works on other vulnerable stretches. This would be apart from digging trenches and constructing granite walls in other areas, he said.
Farmers and their leaders proposed to try bio-fencing as well along forest borders as it was found very effective in many other parts of the country. They said thorny palm saplings could be used for the purpose.
“Our suggestion was to plant such saplings on at least a four kilometre stretch so that it could be a permanent solution to the wild animal menace. It would be the most eco-friendly project with minimal expenses to ward off wild elephants,” said Joy Kannachira, chairman of We Farm hillside farmers’ collective. He said sharp thorns of wild palms would discourage many other animals from venturing into agriculture fields.
Forest Department officials said the suggestion made by farmers would be seriously considered. The fund for the same could be mobilised through the Social Forestry wing. Local farmers’ support could be sourced for planting and other conservation works, they said.
Farmers who took part in Monday’s discussions said they were ready to offer all field-level labour support for the bio-fencing initiative. The only demand they placed before the DFO was to protect the saplings using power fences for at least five years.
Land disputes between some of the rural farmers and the Forest Department were also taken up at the meeting. Based on the latest decision, the department would take speedy action for determining the boundary of disputed land on receiving written applications from farmers. Two farmers submitted their applications to the department at the meeting itself.
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