Elephant protection plan announced

Bhubaneswar: With an average of 25 elephants dying from electrocution annually, the state government has formulated a Rs 20 crore Elephant Protection Plan to avoid such mishaps and announced increase in ex-gratia for death of humans in jumbo attacks.

"The plan will be implemented in Dhenkanal, Angul and Keonjhar districts where electric wires pass through forests," official sources said after a high-level meeting chaired by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.

The government also decided to set up 51 special squads to monitor elephant poaching in forests including the Similipal National Park in Mayurbhanj district. The forest department was allowed to monitor the movement of elephants through global positioning system, the sources said.

Patnaik directed increase of ex-gratia from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 2 lakh in case of death of humans in elephant attacks. The divisional forest officer would be authorised to disburse compensation and ex-gratia in order to avoid delay, they said. The compensation for damage of crop due to elephant depredation was also hiked from Rs 1,000 per acre to Rs 10,000 per acre, they said.