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PTI

The Union Environment Ministry has decided to set up a high-level committee to probe deaths in human-elephant conflicts in Odisha and Jharkhand, sources said on Friday.

The decision was taken at the 17th meeting of the Steering Committee of Project Elephant at Periyar in Kerala which was chaired by Union Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav.

According to government data, Odisha has reported 322 human deaths in elephant attacks in the last three years, the highest in the country.

A total of 291 people died in such attacks in Jharkhand.

The panel will have to submit a report by September 10.

"Regional workshops of stakeholders will be organised for mitigation of human-elephant conflicts. Four such workshops will be held soon," a source said.

At an event in Periyar to mark World Elephant Day, Yadav said human-elephant conflicts are increasing due to competition for resources with around 500 people dying in elephant attacks and 100 jumbos "killed in retaliation" annually.

"Managing human-elephant conflict is the major focus of the government... To find a long-term solution, we are revisiting the elephant corridors of the country and have finished more than 50 per cent of the task involving key stakeholders," he said.

Sources also said an inter-ministerial meeting will be convened with the Railways soon to discuss the issue of elephant deaths due to train hits.

Forty-five elephants have died in train accidents in eight states in the last three years, according to government data. Nineteen pachyderms died in 2018-19; 14 in 2019-20 and 12 in 2020-21.

At the meeting, it was also decided to celebrate 30 years of "Project Elephant" along with 50 years of "Project Tiger".

The Steering Committee also ratified the approval given by the ministry for the creation of the 32nd elephant reserve -- Agasthyamalai in Tamil Nadu -- in the country.
 

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