Anandapur/Jhumpura:Forest officials Tuesday constituted 16 squads to chase away an elephant herd that has strayed into Keonjhar forest division, unleashing a reign of terror among villagers.
The herd comprising 160 elephants destroyed standing crops on large tracts of farmland.
“The elephants have come from Jharkhand. Officials have been kept on their toes to prevent the herd from entering into the human settlements,” a forest official said.
The villagers have also kept torch lights and firecrackers ready to scare away the pachyderms.
A report from Jhumpura said two herds of elephants have been on a damaging spree in villages under Balibandh and Bamebri forest ranges.
The animals have taken away the sleep of farmers by destroying crops in acres of farmland. Locals alleged the forest officials have not taken any measures to drive away the pachyderms.
They lamented that the forest department has not provided them firecrackers and torches to scare away the animals. Farmers in Jaypur, Naupani, Hatidari, Chimpinda, Bamandiha, Kaliapal, Basantpur, Rugudisahi, Naibuga and Dhanurjaypur voiced their concern over their damaged crops. With crops ripening, some farmers have even started reaping sort-term crops to save them from elephants.
For the last three days, the animals have been eating paddy and trampling crops in the villages.
Farmers Samar Munda, Sunaram Munda, Gura Munda, Sanatan Munda and Pithakhua Munda have written a complaint to the Bamebari forest office.
Two herds comprising 12 each were holed up in Nayagad and Kasia forests.
Bamebari forester Jatindra Sahu said arrangements have been made to drive away the animals while the complaints of the affected farmers have been sent to the department.